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Big Brisbane lockdown tourism losses feared on the Sunshine Coast

March 31, 2021 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A report in The Sunshine Coast News says that while the Sunshine Coast was primed for a bumper Easter, with strong bookings, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckl has warned that the Brisbane lockdown will now have a “significant impact” on the Sunshine Coast’s tourism industry.

The report says that with most of the Coast’s Easter holiday bookings from the Greater Brisbane area which has entered a snap three-day lockdown starting at 5pm on Monday, some holidaymakers already have the jitters and prolonging the shutdown would deliver a multimillion-dollar blow to the region’s tourism industry and threaten to throw the country into chaos, creating uncertainty for travel.

Stoeckl said, “The Brisbane lockdown will have a significant impact on the Sunshine Coast’s tourism industry, as its timing comes in the lead-up to our peak Easter Holiday period,” adding, “Operators across the Sunshine Coast had secured strong bookings for this period, with the majority of bookings from the Greater Brisbane market”, and “The announcement may also impact visitor confidence from interstate markets for the upcoming break as well.”

The report also says that although the Brisbane area usually brings the bulk of tourists, the Coast this year has a range of new incoming flights, which could provide a small buffer, with prior to COVID, the Sunshine Coast had direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and there are now also flights from Newcastle, Canberra and Cairns.

Tracey Harris, of the Caloundra Holiday Centre, said she understood the need for caution and reasons behind the lockdown, but it would be devastating for tourism and local shops and restaurants if it stretched into Easter, adding, “We are totally booked and many people are looking forward to it because we lost it last year due to the pandemic,’’ and “It is a very popular time for family holidays, being the last opportunity for a break before winter”, and “The water is still warm and beaches just beautiful.”

She added that “It would be such a shame if the holidays were effectively cancelled by an extended lockdown”, with the centre having 60 arrivals due Thursday, 50 on Friday and 15 on Saturday, with most visitors coming from Brisbane and staying up to two weeks in the Caloundra area.

Ms Harris said they had some travellers coming from down south who were concerned they would not be able to fly into Brisbane.

Mooloolaba Chamber of Commerce president Graeme Juniper said calling the snap lockdown was the “right decision” and which would hopefully not have to be extended, adding, “It is the right call to hit it hard and fast and once they know what they’re dealing with then go from there,” and “At the moment it’s important to shut it down and get it under control and when we know what we’re dealing with then open it up again.”

An luxury airport transfer and limousine operator specialising in transfers from both Brisbane and Sunshine Coast airports mainly to Noosa said all he had been doing for the last two days was taking cancellations.

Sunshine Coast residents are being urged to follow the Chief Health Officer’s directive to carry a face mask at all times when they leave home and to wear a face mask in indoor spaces, in accordance with Queensland Health advice, with Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson saying that given the particularly virulent strain of the COVID-19 virus that had been detected in community transmission cases in Brisbane, it was vital everyone complied with the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

He added, “There is no room for complacency with any of this and I am asking everyone to again do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” adding,

“It is absolutely essential that anyone who has been in Greater Brisbane since Saturday 20 March at 8am follow the same lock down requirements in place for Greater Brisbane”

Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart said Noosa was “still open for business” but urged residents and business operators to remain vigilant, saying, “Masks are now mandatory when entering any hospitality venue or eatery or on public transport, so I encourage all visitors and residents to follow the new restrictions”, adding, “Obviously, the Brisbane lockdown will have an impact on our shire, as we head into Easter, but if we do the right thing over the next few days, hopefully we can get through the Easter break unscathed.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gshwind urged Australians to still visit the Gold and Sunshine Coast and support local businesses, saying,

“We hope will still travel and take advantage of the beautiful weather we have here in Queensland so do come and visit us,” adding, “The community needs you and we certainly encourage people to still to travel and have a great holiday and hopefully by Easter Brisbane will be open again as well.”

An edited report from the Sunshine Coast News by John Alwyn-Jones

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