Australia’s top tourist destinations are also anti-vax hotspots
New figures have revealed that some of Australia’s top travel destinations also have the worst vaccination rates in the country.
These are some of the iconic destinations we dream of vacationing when we can. But these are also places in Australia where vaccination rates are among the worst.
Government data released this week revealed suburbs and areas of Australia with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country – and hugely popular travel destinations such as Byron Bay, Bondi Beach, Mackay and the Whitsundays make it up. part.
And a tourism expert says there could be a significant backlash as travelers opt for Covid-safe destinations once the country finally opens up again.
The data, released Aug. 15 from the federal government’s Vaccine Geographic Location report, shows the areas in each state with the highest vaccination rates for the first and second doses, as well as areas lagging behind the first. jabs.
In New South Wales, the state with the country’s largest Covid-19 outbreak, Sydney’s western and southwestern suburbs are leading the charge while Bondi Beach lags behind with just 20 in 29% of the population fully vaccinated.
The local government area of Byron Shire, which includes Byron Bay, dubbed Australia’s ‘conspiracy capital’ and a hotbed for anti-vax sentiment, lags behind much of New South Wales with only 25.5% of residents fully vaccinated, according to a data breakdown by the ABC.
In Queensland, Brisbane West leads the state with 52.9% of the eligible population receiving a dose, while vacation hotspots of Mackay, Isaac and Whitsundays are among the worst at just 32.8%.
However, low immunization coverage in some areas is not necessarily due to people consciously opposing the vaccine.
Government data does not provide details on the average age of each area, and therefore what proportion of the local population has yet been eligible to receive a vaccine.
It also does not take into account variations in vaccine supply. State Premiers including Daniel Andrews of Victoria and Mark McGowan of Western Australia called on the federal government to “preferential treatment” to New South Wales in vaccine allocations, which the federal government has since declared that he would address.
The deployment of the vaccine in remote and regional areas has also posed challenges. While Darwin has a high vaccine update for the Northern Territory, the numbers are dropping in Litchfield, outside the city, which is the top end tourist mecca. NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner also took issue with the way the federal government records vaccination rates, which he says produces different – and less flattering – results than the Territory government’s tally.
But when travel restrictions are lifted and state borders reopen, some destinations may find themselves overlooked by travelers in favor of those that appear safer against Covid, said David Beirman, senior lecturer at the Management Discipline Group specializing in tourism at UTS Business School.
“I have no doubt that as the Australian federal and state governments continue to promote the concept of immunizing people as a virtual ‘passport’ for national and international travel, travelers will pay increased attention to issues such as percentage of people vaccinated in a given time locality, ”Dr Beirman told news.com.au.
“While we are confined to NSW and Victoria, the percentage of people vaccinated in Byron Bay or any other popular tourist town is largely irrelevant, but when the lockdown ends I’m sure that will become the one of the many factors that people will take. taken into account in choosing a preferred destination when they are able to resume their journey.
The perceived safety of Covid has been an “important factor in choosing the destination” around the world amid the pandemic, Dr Beirman said.
Pandemic measures such as the traffic light system, which has been adopted in the UK, Europe and North America, assess the safety of destinations based on the number of cases and deaths, as well as vaccination rates .
“This in turn determines whether travelers to these countries are required to undergo a quarantine upon their return to their home country,” he said.
However, Dr Beirman warned that an “atmosphere of fear related to Covid … (is) influencing the attitudes of many people as to how, when and where they will travel”.
“There is certainly a pervasive perception that high vaccination rates (equal) the safety of Covid, whether these claims are true or not,” he said.
“Unfortunately, even countries like Israel, the UK and the US which now have very high vaccination rates continue to experience high rates of Covid infection, albeit with death rates well below those of 2020. “
Fear-driven travel decisions could have devastating effects on regions that depend on income from tourism. While vaccination rates are currently lagging in places like Mackay and the Whitsundays, they are also among the areas in Queensland where tourism operators and businesses have suffered the most from border closures.
As the pandemic continues to determine where and how Australians travel after the closures, there is a vacation option that Dr Beirman hopes will become even more popular.
“One area of tourism that is likely to grow is tourism in national parks and wilderness areas where the likelihood of contacting other people and Covid-19 is low,” he said.
“Before the Sydney closures from the end of June 2021, regional tourism in New South Wales was becoming gangbusters. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as the Sydney and Melbourne blockades and those applied to many regional areas of NSW and Victoria. “