Surprising alternate Schoolies plans revealed
GOODBYE Schoolies, hello Summer of Celebration.
This is the new event the State Government is pitching to accommodation providers just days after it officially canned the traditional school leavers festival.
Top tourism and health officials wrote to accommodation providers on Friday asking they help stagger crowds through the warmer months instead of thousands of teenagers making the pilgrimage to the Coast for two weeks.
"We therefore are requesting your support to assist in facilitating this Summer of Celebration by being flexible with your booking policies and working with young school leavers to amend their booking dates and details to comply with these restrictions," the letter said.
Indoor and outdoor gathering limits of 10 are to stay in place and all mass gatherings have been cancelled over the traditional Schoolies period in November.
But gutted school leavers told the Bulletin this week that they can't get back deposits back from booking site Schoolies.com, because they can still technically come and check in.
On Friday, Ms Palaszczuk ruled out beachside concerts and other events at the celebrations "because there can be no mass gatherings".
But there is nothing stopping graduates coming to the city and partying in small groups, the same as any other person.
It prompted a concerned Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to beg graduates to ditch Schoolies.
The government decision escalated concerns about balcony hopping, frontline services being available, policing social distancing and emergency health services in the Surfers Paradise party precinct with thousands of teenagers still expected to flood the Coast in November.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declined to answer a number of Bulletin questions late last week about those fears.
A spokesman said "security arrangements are up to operators".
Police presence will also still be upgraded over the period, with a focus on the directions of Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young.
Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long said providers were still expecting school leavers to arrive on the Coast in the November 21-December 11 period.
"Overall, the event is not cancelled, the beach parties and other things are, but you can still come to the Gold Coast," Mr Long said.
"We have seen some cancellations by people, which is disappointing, but the Queensland Government really have to maintain all support services for those travelling for the first time."
Mr Long said the association was pleased the State Government had helped to establish a task force to deal with issues facing schoolies.
"What we want to avoid is a scenario last week where an event was announced to be cancelled, with a phone call to the industry 15 minutes beforehand.
"A taskforce now allows us to work through uncertainty and confusion for operators.
"The sector is nervous about announcements that were made without consultation, which would put it at risk, but we feel now a task-force can meet the needs to ensure the safety of those involved."
Red Frogs state director Chris George said the support group also welcomed the announcement from the Premier, but still planned to have a hotel outreach volunteer network during the old Schoolies dates.
Originally published as Surprising alternate Schoolies plans revealed