Queensland Border Closure

This week’s announcement of the hard border closure to NSW and the ACT was another dispiriting indication that the path out of the COVID-19 crisis will be long and difficult for the community and for the tourism industry.

Apart from the immediate impact on bookings, travel and flight schedules, perhaps the worst part is that it snuffed out the hope that we were on a straight path to gradually ease restrictions.  We are now back to complete uncertainty, making business and workforce planning very difficult.

The Premier’s decision appears to have strong community support in Queensland, presumably based on the fear of the disastrous situation unfolding in Victoria somehow migrating north. Clearly a situation we all want to avoid, instead maintain the very low case number in Queensland.  We had discussions with the Premier and the Tourism Minister on the day of the announcement and were told that the Chief Health Officer’s main concern was the potential for wide-spread community transmission of COVID-19 in NSW. 

Our main ask of the government under the current circumstances is to help the industry better prepare for decisions like this. Consideration has to be given, in consultation with industry and other stakeholders, to how we can manage COVID cases and possible clusters with more targeted measures, other than full border closures each time in the future. 

The prospect of this playing out for an indeterminate time is grim. It is true that interstate travel does offer relief for some operators. In fact, we are getting reports of some accommodation providers in the South-East corner and also the Outback enjoying very strong demand. That is great news but it cannot obscure the fact that many parts of the industry are only barely surviving, substantially supported by JobKeeper and other government support measures. 

On that note, we have advocated strongly at a national level, through our national organisation the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC), to expend JobKeeper to more businesses. It appears that has now prompted some adjustments, announced yesterday.

We also remain in close consultation with Minster Jones and the Queensland Government to map out strategies across a range of initiatives that will create a path for tourism to re-emerge as the strong contributor to our economy and our community that it must be.

Thank you to all our member and stakeholders for your ongoing support and encouragement.  Please never hesitate to contact us with your concerns or ideas.

Kind regards
Daniel Gschwind