Where else but Queensland? Most would prefer overseas once travel resumes

Queensland will have to overcome a national “reluctance to travel” domestically before it can begin to recoup almost $10 billion in lost tourism earnings caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

May 18, 2020, updated May 18, 2020
Data shows a return to tourism spending

Data shows a return to tourism spending

According to surveys done by Queensland Tourism and Events Corporation, 60 per cent of Australians will wait until they can travel overseas rather than travel domestically.

QTEC chief executive Leanne Coddington said the industry would have to be willing to put something “very special” in front of those people to get them to Queensland. About $56 billion is spent each year by Australians travelling overseas.

“They are not going to make it easy for us,” Coddington said.

The survey also found that 61 per cent said it would be more than 12 months before they were likely to travel.

“About two-thirds of Australians are dreaming about or planning their leisure travel,” Coddington said.

“Australians love to travel and Australians are starting to turn their minds to that. We know that Sydney-siders and Melbournites are still thinking and dreaming. Brisbane-ites are a bit ahead of that, we are planning.

“Day trips are the things people are looking at.”

But there is also a push from within the industry, sparked by Tangalooma’s Bernie O’Keefe, to change the Ekka public holiday on August 12 to the following Friday to allow for a long weekend when some travel restrictions will be lifted.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said it was a good idea and the idea has been put to the Government previously by some councils.

“We have been missing a lot of long-weekend and school-holiday opportunities left, right and centre. It makes sense,” he said.

There may be logistical problems to be sorted out, but the holiday would follow the lifting of some travel restrictions.

He played down the negative survey results which he said were heavily influenced by the bad news in the media.

“When there is some good news happening I’m sure the people with financial confidence will start travelling again,” he said.

It came as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it may be September before Queensland’s borders were reopened.

“I have to take the advice of the chief health officer,” she told ABC.

“Things may look more positive towards the end of September. It’s about the community transmission.”

She said a travel bubble between Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia could work, but it would need the approval of the other states as well.

The Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said there was some uncertainty around the stage three restrictions, but tourism businesses had to be ready to jump when they were eased.

“Queensland is in a great position. We can start opening up,” Young said.

“When we can open our international borders we will be seen as a great place to come, a safe place to come.

“The really big date is June 12 (stage two) for tourism experiences. That’s the time for all of you to have plans in place to let rip.

“The (next) date you are really looking towards is July 10 (stage three). It’s a little bit uncertain because it will depend on the previous stages go and which parts we can focus on.

She said it was unlikely Queensland would not move to stage two, which would allow travel up to 250km and the reopening of camping and accommodation. Stage three will reopen cafes, theme parks, pubs and clubs.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the stage four restrictions and beyond would depend on health advice.

She said the Government was also looking at further measures to support the sector.

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