NT Tourism industry in damage control over border confusion



TOURISM operators have been forced into damage control after confusing messagin­g about the Northern Territory's borders had interstate customers calling to cancel their bookings this week.

It comes after Chief Minister­ Michael Gunner recently came under fire for confusing the public and saying the NT would have "hard border controls" for at least 18 months, leading some to thinking borders had closed, which is not the case.

Tourism Top End general manager Glen Hingley said the mix-up put a lot of forward bookings at risk, with one business almost losing $10,000.

"Tourism operators were getting a lot of calls from clients­ interstate getting in contact about their booking (for) 2021," he said. "Businesses were trying to cancel, concerned they can't come to the Territory because they heard that sound bite about NT borders being closed for 18 months.

"I was doing radio interviews all morning (on ­Wednesday) with southern markets to explain we haven't closed our borders and doing damage control.

"We had a board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, to ensure all candidates know that words matter - language is important during­ this fragile time.

"Businesses are looking for certainty, they're not looking for blurred lines in an election cycle.

"Regardless of what was the intent of the words, the takeaway was that sound bite, which was: we're closed for 18 months. That had an enormous impact."

Mr Gunner said: "I'll keep telling it straight. Our border controls are going nowhere. I'm not going to bullshit Territorians with some fairytale that this will all be over in a few months, because it won't."

Originally published as Tourism industry rush into damage control over border confusion