True economic cost of closing the border revealed

 

THE Glitter Strip will lose more than $1.2 billion in interstate tourism revenue in the next three months unless the border is opened up, according to new tourism research.

A National Visitor Survey from Tourism Research Australia shows southern visitors spent three times more than intrastate travellers ($374 million) in the July quarter last year.

The survey shows 2.2 million interstate and 4.3 million intrastate visitors pumped $3.7 billion into the Queensland economy during that time.

The water filled barrier on the Queensland-NSW border causing problems for travelling Numinbah residents.
The water filled barrier on the Queensland-NSW border causing problems for travelling Numinbah residents.

For the Gold Coast-Mount Tamborine-Lamington National park region, interstate tourists spent $1.2 billion, at $1556 per visitor, compared to $374 million, at $599 per visitor, from intrastate.

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The research also reveals how much the state relies on interstate aviation, and how the Gold Coast Airport remains a key player.

The busiest routes across the nation last July were Queensland interstate markets - Sydney to Brisbane, Melbourne to Brisbane, Sydney to Gold Coast, and Melbourne to Gold Coast.

The July quarter figures show the Gold Coast Airport had 1.4 million domestic passengers.

Hilary Jacobs -— president of the Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce.
Hilary Jacobs -— president of the Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce.

Greater Southern Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs told the Bulletin: "All airports are now running at substantially reduced rates - Gold Coast Airport has fallen over 99 per cent versus last year in April and May. The Bulletin last week reported it was down to three commercial flights a week.

"The Sunshine Coast Airport has no flights and Cairns Airport is down 97 per cent. Brisbane Airport has fared slightly better as the key hub for essential intrastate services."

The State would need at least three times as many Queensland travellers for every missing interstate visitor to replace the missing $3.7 billion in revenue, Ms Jacobs said.

"That also makes the massive assumption that Queensland travellers can afford to travel and have the time to travel as well," she said.

"It wouldn't be new money - it's $3.7 billion that is already in Queensland's economy, so what would be missing out if Queenslanders did make this massive effort."

The Bulletin last week reported Queensland Treasury had not calculated the crippling cost of the border closure.

Gold Coast beaches without tourists. Picture: Glenn Hampson.
Gold Coast beaches without tourists. Picture: Glenn Hampson.

"When the chamber asked for some statistics yesterday (from the tourism industry) they were provided within 12 hours and this is just the tourism impact. It's only the tip of the iceberg we can see and measure," she said.

The chamber fears if Queensland airports are not opened, the interstate domestic component will go to rivals in NSW and Victoria once they further reduce restrictions on July 10.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to say when the border will reopen. Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeannette Young said September was "realistic".

The announcement that New Zealand is COVID-free with the lifting of all domestic restrictions means there is a growing pressure for an Anzac travel bubble.

"The research shows that Queensland is high on the destination list for New Zealanders," Ms Jacobs said.

Surfing before COVID — a crowded line up from Snapper Rocks through to Greenmount. Pic by Luke Marsden.
Surfing before COVID — a crowded line up from Snapper Rocks through to Greenmount. Pic by Luke Marsden.

"Queensland has flattened the curve, we've now got a flat line on COVID-19.

"The longer we stay unnecessarily closed, holding our breath for our tourism lifeblood to return the more chance that many more of our small businesses that rely on tourism will flat line too."

Former Queensland Tourism chairman Terry Jackman predicts the Coast will boom if the borders are opened.

"All the rich kids in Sydney who normally travel to the south of France or Disneyworld in Florida during school holidays can't go this year," Mr Jackman said.

"They are sitting at home pondering where to go. The borders need to open. I strongly believe if they do, the state will become the perfect school-holiday paradise and boom."

Originally published as True economic cost of closing the border revealed



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