Chimu Chat: Susan Elliot

When it’s safe I’m looking forward to seeing what other moving objects I can throw myself off, on foreign shores!

Susan Elliot | Freelance Journalist

Before the pandemic hit, working as a travel journalist was like living on a set of every travel show you ever watched. I was constantly on the road, locally, interstate and internationally, spreading the good word of travel to indulgent audiences, largely through television, in my role as senior producer for Sydney Weekender.

Television was and still is, an incredible magnet for tour operators as it showcases destinations and experiences on a spectacular canvas that online and print can never quite replicate. I truly enjoy working in this space. I’ll treasure, forever the almost embarrassing generosity of people who have hosted me on so many wonderful journeys over the years. They are on speed dial for when lockdown ends.

The pandemic has changed the travel industry worldwide. Local is focal, we hear it from every direction, in every nation. On the positive side, collaboration of many businesses that were once in competition has born fruits for the innovative. I’ve discovered companies sharing databases, amalgamating business ideas, saving costs and increasing flow. The pandemic is redefining and consolidating operations, not only here but around the world, which will benefit all travellers long term.

Casting my mind back I truly miss the unlimited, unquestioned, unchallenged freedom to go wherever and whenever I wanted but I am enjoying my switch to focus on Australian based travel, it’s not a difficult destination to sell, that’s why the rest of the world used to come here! I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the planet!

That the demand for local content is at an all-time high, when lockdowns allow, really epitomises the adventurous nature of Australians, whether near or far, they need to travel.  This has kept me busy on many adventures across our wide brown land.

As for overseas travel and the growing demand, imagine you are at a party with Mount Vesuvius, Krakatoa, Mauna Loa, Liaura, Mt Etna and Pinatubo as guests. They’re hot, simmering, bubbling, restless and they just want to erupt! The pressure to travel abroad is building by the day and travellers are near exploding to get out there. Though the conversations I hear are that that they will only travel with companies who can reassure them that they have their back. The ones who have worked tirelessly on support and contingency plans, plus have robust operations to support all aspects of logistics, not only on location but on their journey to and from home will be in critical demand.

As a result of this need for protection, travel agents have, once again, become our besties, after decades of fine-tuning D.I.Y travel, I believe travellers are back to using professional travel agents for their bookings. With an avalanche of new requirements for travel, my theory is, that travellers will feel safer in the hands of a travel agent, having someone to lean on if things go pear-shaped, is going to be in higher demand than ever before.

To keep my fingers in international reporting during the hiatus, I’ve enjoyed a switch to reflective journalism where I’ve revisited some of my past travels to create comical content with new eyes. One example: I recently wrote a feature story on 9 ways to ruin your own holiday, which came fairly easily when I started recalling the many accidents I’ve had on trips, they were entirely my own fault.

When it’s safe I’m looking forward to seeing what other moving objects I can throw myself off on foreign shores. Of course, I’ll make sure I’m travelling with a reputable company as I’m sure to need it.

For more stories behind the scenes from people in travel read more on the Chimu Chat

Author: Meg Hall

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