Our lousy shot at quarantine
I put an editorial to the Herald-Sun that was published this morning on the poor way in which we have welcomed our tennis stars — and by extension how we’re “welcoming” all people in quarantine. Here it is:
Our Lousy Shot at Quarantine
Herald-Sun 23 January 2021
Melbourne is Australia’s cultural epicentre, long the world’s most liveable city: from our food and hospitality offerings to our music, arts, festivals, and sporting events. Made in Melbourne is a general hallmark for quality, creativity and style. However, how we’ve held the world’s best tennis players prisoner with sub-standard food and experience is a complete failure of imagination. Most tennis players have taken to social media to complain about sub-standard quarantine conditions, which has harmed our reputation as a friendly tourism centre. As much as it’s fun to portray them as spoilt brats, they’ve got a point.
Can you think how different this could have been if we’d led with a little innovation and creativity? We might still have time to make their quarantine experience something quite remarkable — for the right reasons.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner in quarantine is 42 meals: could we not engage 42 of Melbourne’s top restaurants to provide quarantine meals for these global influencers? Sourcing fresh, high quality produce supplied by stallholders from Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market, Prahran Market and Preston Market? Showcasing beverages from local brands Four Pillars Gin to Hoddles Creek Estate, T2 Tea to coffee from St Ali — and amenities from Aesop.
And while they are all stuck in a hotel, why not provide a custom TV channel of Melbourne-themed music, TV and film? We could showcase everything from Dame Edna Everage to The Castle to The Club to Client Liaison to Kylie Minogue to Neighbours. Or even our favourite sporting contests, from the Olympic water polo final in 1956 to the AFL Grand Final in 1989 to the Australian Formula One and Motorcycle Grands Prix.
What about a welcome package of books by local authors from Melbourne’s finest publishers such as Text Publishing and Hardie Grant Books — we are, of course, also a UNESCO City of Literature.
This has been the Victorian government’s biggest missed opportunity. It came out determined to be tough and restrictive rather than looking at making mandatory quarantine a pleasant surprise for our high-profile guests who have the world’s eyes on them. If we had showcased the best Melbourne had to offer in a curated quarantine-sized package, the reception would have been very different, and the message communicated on the global stage could have been positive — or as positive as you could be about a 14-day quarantine.
Imagine being able to revive through our actions, the old Tourism Victoria tagline for Melbourne: ‘Melbourne — You’ll never want to leave.’ It’s not too late. After all, they’re still captive for at least another week.