Tourism setback sparks call to jail border bandits
DEVASTATION, despair and calls to throw Queensland border bandits in jail - state tourism leaders have reacted to the latest coronavirus setback which could deliver another $1 billion blow to the battered industry.
Almost a third of Queensland's $10 billion interstate tourism revenue comes from Sydney, with five million NSW residents to be barred entry from the Sunshine State from this weekend.
A prolonged closure to Sydney could cost the state's tourism industry upwards of $1 billion, with Wednesday's decision by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wiping an estimated $100 billion from winter trade for Cairns and Great Barrier Reef operators alone.
Industry leaders yesterday accepted the Premier's hard line move as a "devastating" but necessary course of action, while Queensland tourism godfather Paul Donovan mirrored widespread community outrage when he called for anyone who placed Queensland lives and businesses in jeopardy by lying about their activities interstate to be "thrown in jail" if found guilty.
"Throw the book at them," said the long-time tourism leader and chairman of Destination Gold Coast. "Put them in jail. They are risking lives and livelihoods."
He also said tourism leaders would be "relentless in our pursuit of any opportunities that exist to get people here from other markets that are still open".
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said a lot of tourism businesses in that area were starting to see some green shoots.
"It (the pandemic) has put businesses under enormous pressure (but) we have to make sure we get it under control."
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said the decision would have been more devastating if it had involved a definitive border closure, rather than excluding Greater Sydney.
"This is a measured response and it's certainly not as severe as the alternative," he said.
"The Gold Coast can still benefit from that traffic from northern NSW and there are other parts of the state still allowed to travel here which is significant."
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the clampdown on Sydney would help the state avoid the escalating crisis gripping southern states.
"Victoria's tourism industry is devastated - we don't want to be in that position," she said.
"The decision to close our borders to Sydney is just as much about protecting our economy as it is about saving lives.
"A lockdown similar to what Victoria is going through right now would be absolutely devastating to our tourism industry."
Destination Gold Coast's executive director of marketing Carla Anderson said it was another setback for the tourism recovery.
"(But) the health and safety of Gold Coasters, visitors, businesses and our tourism community is the top priority," she said.
Originally published as Tourism setback sparks call to jail border bandits