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Queensland tops travel wish-list but border remains firmly shut

May 21, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Despite a warning from Destination Gold Coast that the city’s economy, starved of tourists from beyond Queensland, is “teetering on the edge of collapse”, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk insists that the state border will stay closed indefinitely.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, says reopening the border too soon could have terrible consequences. Even a September opening is optimistic, Young says.

The reason for Queensland’s caution is that New South Wales and Victoria still have persistent low-level community transmission of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Sudden outbreaks and pesky clusters keep flaring up in places like schools, nursing homes and meat packing plants.

“They [NSW and Victoria] have to get that under control before we allow visitors to come here,” Palaszczuk told the ABC.

The Queensland tourism industry calls the border closure “disastrous”, while Destination Gold Coast chief executive officer Annaliese Battista says the city’s economy is “teetering on the edge of collapse” and the tourism industry needs certainty.

The irony is that Australians plan to flock to Queensland for holidays in the next few months once leisure travel resumes as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.

That’s according to a national survey of over 1500 people commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).

The TTF says Queensland’s firm stand is “depriving the already suffering local tourism industry of the opportunity to reclaim some ground over the lucrative July school holiday period”.

Queensland’s Gold Coast

The first in a series of surveys on travel intentions conducted by Newgate Research for TTF explores the travel intentions of Australians in the next six months as Covid-19 restrictions are gradually lifted, leisure travel is permitted and people return to a more normal way of life.

TTF chief executive Margy Osmond says the results show that Australians are keen to travel once restrictions are eased – and Queensland is clearly the number-one choice.

“We understand the concerns of the Queensland Government but think July is a realistic date for the reopening of state borders given the progress we have made in flattening the curve and to delay that until September is a missed opportunity and will have a devastating economic impact on the state’s winter holiday peak.

“Ideally the industry would like to see a consistent approach to the reopening of state and territory borders that address the health concerns but also set us firmly on the path to recovery.”

The survey found that 28% of Australians were more interested in travelling domestically than they were before the pandemic while 45% remain unchanged. Another 27% said they were less likely to travel citing cost and concerns over Covid-19 at the main reasons.

Osmond said that over a third of respondents would pack their bags and head north for some sunshine over the cooler winter months and New South Welshman with 49% and Victorians 45% would be leading the charge

“Not surprisingly the most popular destinations are the Gold Coast with 53% and the Sunshine Coast/Noosa with 36%while 30%said they would go to Brisbane and another 20% chose Tropical North Queensland.

“Our survey shows that people are eager to start travelling and relaxation is their priority so the beautiful beaches and warm climate of Queensland are very alluring.

“Unfortunately at this stage that’s looking like more of a dream than a reality if Queensland continues to batten down its hatches.”

NSW was the second most desired destination for those planning interstate travel with 29% followed by Victoria (22%), Tasmania (14%) South Australia (13%) and WA and the Northern Territory (both 11%). The ACT was favoured by 10% of respondents.

Edited by Peter Needham

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