Travel boss tips borders will open two weeks earlier than planned

Flight Centre has predicted Queensland will get to 80 per cent vaccination level and its own freedom day on December 6, almost two weeks ahead of the State Government’s forecast.

Oct 21, 2021, updated Oct 21, 2021
Analysts said lack of staff was restricting tourism volume growth which was also being impacted by higher fuel costs pushing up air fares (Photo: Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

Analysts said lack of staff was restricting tourism volume growth which was also being impacted by higher fuel costs pushing up air fares (Photo: Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

The Government has said that it will re-open the borders once the state on December 17, no matter what the vaccination level. However, it is prepared to move earlier if vaccinations hit 80 per cent of those eligible for a double jab sooner than that date.

That will mean fully vaccinated people will be allowed into the state without quarantine and will bring about a surge in interstate travel and tourism.

In outlining his Constitutional challenge against the border closures at a conference on Thursday, Flight Centre founder and managing director Graham “Skroo” Turner said some of the states were “recalcitrant” in terms of easing restrictions.

“We are really pleased Queensland is definitely easing restrictions on December 17, although our mathematician has worked it out that we should be getting to the 80 per cent level on December 6,’’ Turner said.

“But we are still concerned about WA and it might be some time. We are a country with a constitution and section 92 does guarantee freedom of movement. Its freedom of movement of people and trade and it’s there for a purpose.

“We think it’s becoming unreasonable to restrict people particularly at 70 to 80 per cent of people vaccinated so we are going to challenge that and we just hope WA sees the light or at least gives us a plan and we will see whether that plan is reasonable.

“The process is in play because it can take months to do this.’’

He said it was likely that people would be able to travel to London before travelling to Perth.

The High Court challenge against the states’ border closure follows a similar one launched by businessman Clive Palmer. However, Palmer’s case was before a vaccine was readily available and Turner said in that case the court decided the border restrictions were considered reasonable.

“Our advice is that generally it would not be considered reasonable at this stage,’’ he said.

Turner said it was going to be more difficult for the company to market its way out of the pandemic as it had done after the SARS pandemic, but it had maintained spending on its key assets “and we are going to come out of this in very good stead.

“Obviously in things like marketing spend, particularly in leisure we are not at the stage in most of our markets that we can ramp that up yet but as soon as we see a really clear picture whether that’s in NSW now or in the US, UK or Canada with the transatlantic opening up on November 8, we will start spending on marketing so that we will come back quite strongly.

“I’m pretty confident we are going to come out of this stronger than we went in.

“This is not going to happen over the next six months. We are predicting that over the next six to nine months we will get back to a profit globally but it will two-and-a-half to three years before we are back to pre-Covid levels of sales.”

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