Jason Brown owns and manages G’day Adventure Tours. The business has been running since May 2016 and offers a range of tours, mainly in the coastal wilderness of Bribie Island. It is solely operated by Jason, with his father helping out occasionally. He also casually employs small tourism operator guides when needed.
The business had experienced setbacks with a drop in tourist numbers during the 2019 summer weather-related crises, including a 2-week shut down of Bribie Island National Park, due to bushfires. Nevertheless, Jason was optimistic that things would get better after the fire season and was on the verge of getting a shopfront for his business when the COVID pandemic hit.
When travel restrictions were imposed from March 2020, Jason said: “Times were very tough. Everything was in limbo.”
G’day Adventure Tour’s customers comprised mainly international and interstate tourists. Incoming international tourism stopped, state borders were locked down and all national parks were closed until mid-June 2020. This resulted in immediate loss of international tourists, who made up 60 per cent of the G’day Adventure Tour’s market. Likewise, domestic tourists slowed to only a trickle of local Queenslanders. The business’ interstate clients are mostly from Victoria and New South Wales, with a few from South Australia and Tasmania.
Jason acknowledges that: “it’s been the toughest year ever in business,” but for his business he says: “it was tough to start with.”
Jason started looking into other options to diversify and get ready for when restrictions eased. He began collaborating with other tour operators to combine tourism business offerings and support each other.
As soon as the national parks opened on June 13, Jason spent three days filming tour offerings of the island, which he then uploaded to YouTube. This sparked a lot of interest and traction with 4,100 views in the first 55 days.
His interstate customers were building when domestic travel restrictions eased, but the August travel bans caused bookings to decline again.
“The pandemic has brought the tourism industry closer – it’s now much more of a community, working together, helping each other out.”
The business has a COVID-safe plan in place and is limited at present to conducting private tours or smaller groups of families. They are only permitted to camp during the week in the National Park. Jason is working on expanding the camping tour side of his business, applying for a permit for a semi-permanent site that allows camping on weekends, and branching into the school camp market. Weekend camping could help to increase the local market.
Jason plans to continue working with other businesses to innovate and diversify. He has joined a tourism operators’ group on WhatsApp and is currently working on a product with the Bribie Island ferry crew. Jason says he had never thought of working together with them before the COVID 19 crisis: “The pandemic has brought the tourism industry closer – it’s now much more of a community, working together, helping each other out.”