Border reopens to ACT tourism but Queensland businesses likely to struggle

Queensland’s tourism leaders say opening the state to ACT residents will provide little relief to many struggling small businesses crippled by border closures.

Queensland’s Labor government announced it will reopen to the ACT from next Friday, but travellers can only arrive by plane and must have remained solely within the ACT for 14 consecutive days before departure.

The ACT has a population of about 427,000, according to the ABS and Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) chief executive Daniel Gschwind hopes there is a lot of “pent up” passion to travel.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind hopes there’s a lot of ‘pent’ up passion for travel among ACT residents. Picture: SuppliedSource:News Regional Media

He concedes it’s not the most lucrative of Australia’s tourism markets but any influx of travellers was better than none.

“It’s a step in the right direction and I’m glad something is happening. It’s better than nothing,” Mr Gscwhind told NCA NewsWire.

“The ACT has a very affluent population with secure jobs so they may well have the propensity to travel.”

The decision to reopen to the ACT comes days after embattled Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld reopened in time to capitalise on Queensland’s school holiday break which started on Saturday.

Dreamworld and its sister park White Water World reopened to the public on Wednesday after they were closed in March over coronavirus concerns. Picture: Steve Holland/ NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia

Crowds flocked on Wednesday to Dreamworld and its sister attractions WhiteWater World which have been shut for six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dreamworld was the last of the main theme parks on the Gold Coast to welcome back guests although it will have restricted capacity and, other than those in the ‘border bubble’ postcodes on the southeast Queensland border, it will have next to no NSW visitors.

Queensland Hotels Association chief executive Bernie Hogan said reopening the border to the smallest state or territory had its limitations for tourism operators.

“It will only be marginal assistance to tourism accommodation hotels at ths point,” Mr Hogan said.

The decision to reopen the border caught tourism operators off-guard with the announcement not expected for about two more weeks, in line with the Queensland GFovernment’s firm stance on only reviewing border closures at the end of each month.

According to QITC figures, there were 227,00 visitors from the ACT in 2019.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and Deputy Premier Steven Miles. Dr Young says ACT residents must fly to Queensland because anyone who drives will be travelling through NSW which is a COVID-19 hotspot. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius PickardSource:News Corp Australia

Deputy Premier Steven Miles urged Canberrans to consider Queensland as a destination for the school holidays which officially reopen at 1am next Friday, September 25.

“We’ve been saying for some time now that for Queenslanders, Queensland is good to go. Well now for Canberrans, Queensland is good to come,” Mr Miles said.

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said she felt confident enough work had been done between the Queensland and ACT governments to ensure no NSW residents were able to enter the state.

Canberrans wanting to enter Queensland from next Friday will have to prove they have not visited a hotspot, which includes all of NSW, in the two weeks prior to departure.

“They’ll have to declare they haven’t been to a hotspot (including NSW) in the previous 14 days,” Dr Young said.

“They’ll have to fly, if they drive they’ll have driven through a hotspot (NSW) and won’t be able to enter.”

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