Chimu Chat: James McAlloon
Most people left in travel have decided to fight to the end.
Travelling prior to the pandemic was like having a wishlist
at my disposal, the barriers were few and far between and handing the credit
card over made dreams come true in an instant. The only hurdles were earning
money and deciding where to go? Life was so simple.
I was blissfully bending my mind in Antarctic landscapes when the pandemic was declared, so I experienced a somewhat delayed catastrophe. When the news caught up with me, it was like a thunderbolt! Returning to my job in the travel industry, I was suddenly surrounded by people in the trenches, working late and completing tasks so stressful, no one was prepared. There was no skill set fit to repatriating the swathes of Australians suddenly stranded overseas, a job that went on for some weeks. Then suddenly it all went quiet, there was nothing left to do and we were put on furlough. It was like running through a cyclone then suddenly you’re in the eye of the storm and eery silence surrounds you, yet you knew chaos was not far away.
Travel is my passion, as it is for all who are left standing, or we simply wouldn’t be here. I’m lucky I don’t have dependents, so I have had the benefit of flexibility. I never had to leave the job or company that I have come to love so much. Instead, I used this opportunity to take part in a work-sponsored walk across the Australian desert raising over A$40k for people in tourism in South America directly affected by COVID19 with no government support. A feat I’m very proud of. The travel industry in Australia was on its knees, yet it dug deep and supported an even worse plight, it screams volumes about the humans that work in this industry.
Most people left in travel have decided to fight to the end. Perhaps it’s stubbornness, love, passion, or all the above, but I think personally, in the long run, changing my career would have been an even worse decision than staying, and I refuse to set my own limits. I love what my job, career, industry, and colleagues give me, and I’m not one that gives up easily. Like Mawson said, “it’s easy to give up and die, surviving is the hard part”
The two main things you will find in the industry as it stands today is that the companies and people remaining are the best managed, most resilient and most innovative. This means that the industry is restarting with the best of us and I’m proud to be a part of that. The community feels smaller but smarter, more proactive and cooperative, ideas are implemented faster and more efficiently and opportunities are presenting themselves between the most unlikely but the most cohesive of partners, it’s been very hard, but I think when borders finally open, the ones preparing now will be reaping the returns.
I miss the personal contact we had in the industry pre-pandemic but I think the pandemic has accelerated change in exciting ways. We’ve been busy streamlining booking processes and taking a deep dive into our sustainability measures, plus ensuring our product partners are adhering to a high level of environmental standards in their businesses and communities.
It’s been incredible working for Chimu during this time, the support was there from day one with two priorities, one being how we can survive and two, how to keep as many people as possible.
When travellers are looking for their bucket list experiences in the future, I will be proud to play a part in making their dreams come true. We are still here and will be ready and waiting when the time is right.