You’ve killed off Christmas: tourism chiefs slam decision to lock out Sydneysiders

The tourism and aviation industries have expressed anger and dismay at the Palaszczuk Government’s reluctance to open Queensland’s borders to visitors from Sydney, saying the “ridiculous” stance to black-spot all of Greater Sydney effectively kills off the interstate holiday market for Christmas.

Oct 30, 2020, updated Oct 30, 2020
Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. (Photo: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. (Photo: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

Tourism leaders said the peak Christmas period will be severely impacted – with the loss of about 200,000 tourists – by the Government’s decision to lock Sydney out of the market until potentially late November.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the sector had been hoping for better news from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when she re-opened the NSW border, but kept 32 local government areas in Sydney locked out because of one untraceable case.

“People just will not book Christmas holidays,” he said.

Asked if the Government’s stance would kill off Christmas tourism in Queensland he said: “Exactly, for the interstate tourism market, yes.”

“We are also disappointed that there were no moves on easing restrictions within the state especially given all the hard work that the hospitality and accommodations sectors have done,” he said.

“We had hoped that Sydney would be part of opening up of borders,” he said.

“The suggestion that we have to wait until 30 November for anything to change on that simply won’t do.”

Qantas boss Alan Joyce said the decision was ridiculous and that staff would remain stood down because of the continued restrictions. It would also mean a potential 200,000 people would not travel into Queensland.

“Keeping the doors bolted to places that you can’t reasonably call hot spots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of economic and social damage as well,” Joyce said.

He said that Queensland may find that by the time it makes a decision people in Sydney have made other plans.

He said Qantas and Jetstar were ready to schedule more than 1000 flights between Sydney and destinations in Queensland for the month of November, had the borders opened which would have brought about 200,000 people and injected millions of dollars into local economies in both states.

The powerful Queensland Resources Council also hit the Government on another front, saying if the Labor Party was forced into a coalition with the Greens in order to govern it would cost thousands of jobs.

The lobby group, which has become increasingly strident, said the prospect of Labor taxing its way out of COVID-19 by imposing massive royalty increases on the mining, gas and energy sector and potentially forming government with the Greens was as a key point of difference between the two major parties.

QRC chief and former Howard government minister Ian Macfarlane said the Greens’ support for a Labor Government would likely be conditional on the ALP agreeing to impose an extra $55 billion worth of royalties on the resources sector over the next four years in an effort to shut mining down.

“Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has repeatedly declined the opportunity to sign a letter to the QRC guaranteeing not to govern with the Greens nor to increase royalty taxes in the next term of government,” Macfarlane said.

Gschwind said the tourism industry could not wait until the 30th of November.

“There was also no indication that there would be a reduction in the restrictions that still exist in Queensland.

“We have done such an excellent job with the chief health officer to implement plans at venues and there are no cases anymore in Queensland so we had hoped that would be carried off with an easing in restrictions.”

Gschwind said even if there was an opening to Sydney at the end of the month the hotels would struggle to find staff and airlines would not be able to gear up fully to meet demand.

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