Tourism industry reeling at piecemeal policy
Queensland tourism and travel businesses are hurting and in limbo as border restrictions throw interstate holidays and family visits into chaos.
While Queensland's border last night remained open to New South Wales beyond the Greater Sydney hotspot, industry leaders said the uncertainty was hurting businesses who had clawed their way back with strong summer bookings.
Flight Centre boss Graham 'Skroo' Turner said the piecemeal border closures introduced by different states was "panic then paralysis" that was hitting businesses already hurting from a devastating 2020.
Mr Turner called for a national set of rules to decide hotspot lockdowns rather than the current situation where he said states were acting like "seven different countries".
Queensland was left in limbo yesterday with no formal announcement from the Queensland Government on border plans in the light of the growing NSW cluster and its spread to Victoria.
Victoria has moved to close its border with New South Wales, sparking long lines of desperate Victorians trying to cross back into their own state, while WA closed its borders to Victoria, even while at least one Virgin flight was still in the air and about to touch down in Perth.
Passengers landed to decide either to return on the next flight, possibly even having to transit through Brisbane, or 14 days quarantine.
It is just the latest of more than 90 changes to domestic border restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the airline.
Mr Turner said hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses were at stake.
"Opening and closing all the time without co-ordination is hurting people and particularly the tourism economy," Mr Turner said.
"It should be co-ordinated federally.
"We are going to have more closures and hotspots until the vaccine.
"Border closures don't make any difference except cause chaos.
"As soon as the borders open and you have a reasonable projection to stay open, tourism comes back quite quickly.
"Domestically, it's enough to keep businesses alive."
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Daniel Gschwind said Queensland operators had been surviving on internal tourism and would have to for some time to come.
He said the industry was thankful hospitality and accommodation remained open despite the pain of 2020.
"We are keeping a wary eye on both Victoria and New South Wales," Mr Gschwind said.
"It doesn't bode well.
"Some states have closed their borders.
"It maintains a high level of uncertainty."
But he said Queenslanders could help their own tourism operators by holidaying here.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed and also having to make the most of what Queenslanders can do for the tourism economy," Mr Gschwind said.
"We are grateful for small mercies but it will be challenging for us when the school holidays are over."
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said "the Palaszczuk Government will continue to listen to the expert medical advice of the Chief Health Officer to keep Queenslanders safe from COVID-19.
"We're communicating regularly with Regional Tourism Organisations on any changes to COVID hot spots and border arrangements."
Originally published as Tourism industry reeling at piecemeal policy