$11b hit: How mammoth border closure costs add up
QUEENSLAND'S border ban could stop four million Aussies from visiting some of the Sunshine State's biggest tourist destinations, with Brisbane and the Gold Coast set to bear the brunt of the devastating hit.
As political leaders yesterday discussed the absurd scenario that southerners could be allowed to travel across the Tasman to New Zealand before they were permitted to cross our state border, figures from Tourism Research Australia (TRA) reveal just how much Queensland relies on interstate visitors to fill the coffers of industry operators.
Last year, more than $10 billion was spent by Queenslanders travelling within their own state, but that figure was almost matched by the value of interstate visitors, who generated more than eight million overnight trips to the Sunshine State.
If the State Government's border lockdown remains until September, it could cost the Queensland tourism industry more than $5 billion at a time when the $6 billion international market has been all but wiped out.
According to TRA statistics, NSW travellers last year accounted for two million trips to Brisbane, 1.2 million visits to the Gold Coast and 568,000 visits to the Sunshine Coast.
Victorians accounted for 878,000 trips to Brisbane, 638,000 to the Gold Coast and 493,000 to far-north Queensland. The figures also show the regions also depend on the key interstate markets, with 137,000 trips by NSW residents to the Whitsundays, 119,000 to the Fraser Coast and 112,000 to the outback.
NSW and Victoria are Queensland's two biggest interstate markets, contributing a combined $7.6 billion and 6.8 million visitors in 2019.
Keeping the borders closed until September - a possibility foreshadowed last week by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the state's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young would slash tourism revenue from Easter and the June-July school holidays, a period traditionally favoured by southerners looking to escape dreary winters.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the lost opportunity was hitting operators at the time of year they usually stood to gain the most from interstate travel.
"The winter holiday period is so important to Queensland tourism, particularly to regional destinations," he said.
He said the industry was still clinging on to the hope that decision-makers may yet relent and open the borders in time for the looming school holidays.
"That is the only thing keeping some of our operators hanging on mentally as well as financially."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk held firm that her Government's tough border restrictions would be reviewed at the end of each month.
"Every other state and territory has their borders closed except for NSW and Victoria, so we are not alone," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"And I have made it very clear that we will review these issues at the end of each month, but my fundamental issue here is I will not put Queenslanders at risk."
The Premier said she would be meeting with a range of stakeholders on the Gold Coast this week, including Mayor Tom Tate.
There have been about 864 locally acquired cases of coronavirus in NSW and 567 in Victoria, compared with 176 in Queensland.
Figures compiled by The Courier-Mail show the Sunshine State recorded 16 cases of coronavirus since May 11, an increase of 3.13 cases per million Queenslanders.
That compares with NSW, where cases have grown by 31 to 3090, an increase of 3.87 infections per million people.
Queensland's numbers over the past two weeks also included at least 10 cases of locals who were diagnosed with the virus interstate, nine of which had already recovered after being treated interstate.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday said that a trans-Tasman bubble could operate even if Queensland and some states continued to keep their borders closed to domestic interstate travel. LNP Treasury spokesman Tim Mander said the Premier was "out of touch" with the Gold Coast community and that her focus should be on "jobs, jobs, jobs".
Pacific Watersports Palm Cove owner Luke Bamford said tourism operators were "freaking out" as they struggled with the border closures heading into their peak season from July to October.
"We need the borders open or what are they going to do to get operators through this?" he said. "There's so much uncertainty around everything it's hard to have any hope."
Number of cases added since May 11:
New South Wales 31
Increase in cases per million population since May 11
New South Wales 3.87
*1.37 when 9 recovered cases are taken into account
Originally published as $11b hit: How mammoth border closure costs add up