Fears of another tourism collapse after southern outbreak
ANXIOUS interstate travellers are cancelling Sunshine State holidays in droves, but Queenslanders are stepping into the void to help save the battered tourism industry from a new wave of despair.
With Sydney's five million citizens already barred from Queensland, fears are mounting that the rest of NSW and all of Victoria could join them within days as the coronavirus threat escalates in southern capitals.
After copping a surge in cancellations from NSW travellers in the lead-up to Christmas, weary Queensland tourism operators are now bracing for Victorians to follow suit.
Visitors from NSW and Victoria typically pump $20 million a day into the Queensland economy, but that is now once again under threat with Sydneysiders blocked from entering Queensland and speculation mounting that the growing number of coronavirus cases across Victoria could also force a travel ban.
However, in a silver lining to the pandemic's dark cloud, Queenslanders are flocking to take over the cancelled bookings.
From the iconic turtle hatchery outside Bundaberg to the Gold Coast's bursting campgrounds, lengthy waiting lists are helping to fill the void at some of our most popular tourist destinations.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said some operators were fortunate that they were able to recoup lost bookings from local holiday-makers.
"Overall, it's been a very busy summer so far and many of the bookings that have been lost have been reallocated," he said.
However, he said Queensland could not rely on intrastate travel forever and needed to give interstate travellers confidence that the state's borders will not continually slam shut.
"Consumers are so nervous about holding on to the bookings they already have, let alone making new bookings," he said.
"We are hopeful the State government can hold its nerve or else we could see border closures shatter any sort of consumer confidence that is left."
Gold Coast tourist parks traditionally have lengthy waiting lists, with standby travellers able to snap up new vacancies caused by recent cancellations.
It has been a similar story at Mon Repos, where visitor numbers for the turtle hatching season were slashed due to COVID-safe protocols, but huge standby lists have helped offset cancellations from interstate travellers.
Brisbane's Gambaro Hotel has experienced some interstate cancellations, but has also seen a rise in guests from within southeast Queensland.
Hotel manager Matt Wheeler said the venue was still tracking well, despite cancellations.
"We've had a few cancellations (from interstate), but we've also had an increase in bookings from within Queensland," he said.
"Particularly from the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and further west, from people who just want to get out of the house for a nice night or a couple of days."
Originally published as Fears of another tourism collapse after southern outbreak