‘Now keep the bloody border open’: Tourism boss

 

Thanks Premier - but please 'keep the bloody border open'.

That's the message from a Queensland tourism industry leader after Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the dreaded border checkpoints were being dismantled and Queensland was being reopened to NSW.

Trevor Rawnsley, CEO of the Gold Coast-based Australian Resident Managers Accommodation Association which represents holiday resorts, welcomed the decision but said the 'totally unnecessary' border closure had cost the tourism industry dearly.

 

 

The Queensland border closures have hit the tourism industry hard. Picture: Scott Powick
The Queensland border closures have hit the tourism industry hard. Picture: Scott Powick

 

"It's a happy day and we don't want to be too critical but in our view, there was no reason we needed a hard border closure in the first place and it certainly didn't need to go on for so long," he said.

"Consumer confidence is shot when it comes to booking a Queensland holiday and the Government now needs to keep the bloody border open if that confidence is to return.

 

 

 

"We know shutting the border was based on a genuine belief that it was the right thing to do but if those making these decisions had some skin in the game and were losing 20 to 25 per cent of their business, they'd be making a different decision.

"Our incomes and livelihoods depend on free trade across the borders."

 

 

The hard border closure during December last year. Picture: Scott Powick
The hard border closure during December last year. Picture: Scott Powick

 

Mr Rawnsley said North Queensland tourism operators, in particular, were 'bleeding' after the latest border closure which began just before Christmas.

"Intrastate travel has done well but we're running out of Queenslanders," he said.

"There's only so many of us who can travel to north and south east Queensland. We need interstate people to travel to Cairns and the Gold Coast but they won't make travel plans if we keep shutting the border."

Mr Rawnsley said the extended border closure meant that the tourism industry had been robbed of the peak Christmas holiday season.

"It's really knocked the wind out of operators," he said.

"The industry is like a big superyacht - it's going to take a while to fluff those sails up again."

 

An empty Gold Coast Airport during the coronavirus lockdown.
An empty Gold Coast Airport during the coronavirus lockdown.

 

Chris Mills, CEO of Queensland Airports Ltd which includes Gold Coast Airport, said flights and passenger numbers were expected to increase from next Monday when the border reopens but consumer sentiment was fragile following border closures made with 'little notice'.

"There continues to be a need for a consistent national framework to be established to manage travel restrictions and (COVID-19) hotspot definitions," he said.

Mr Mills said the Gold Coast-Sydney route was the fourth busiest in the country before the pandemic, which decimated flights into Coolangatta.

 

Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan. Picture: Tertius Pickard
Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan. Picture: Tertius Pickard

 

 

Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan said the border reopening "will save Easter … we hope".

"If the border wasn't reopened, there would have been cancellations galore from people who had already booked holidays here," he said.

Mr Donovan said the State Government had a difficult job balancing health and economic imperatives but there was 'no question they now have the health situation under control'.

"So let's open the border, and keep it open, so we can welcome NSW people back - because we need them," he said.

"We just need everyone to do the right thing when it comes to hygiene, social distancing and doing proper COVID check-ins when they go to venues so we don't fall over again."

 

 

Originally published as 'Now keep the bloody border open': Tourism boss



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