Island paradise on brink of tourism catastrophe
An Australian island paradise two hours from Brisbane wants clarity on Queensland's border rules as it attempts to rebuild its shattered tourism industry.
Norfolk Island administrator Eric Hutchinson said the tourism mecca was facing certain economic catastrophe unless it could reopen to states other than Queensland.
The Australian external territory adopted the Queensland's hot spot definition early in the pandemic and has since had its "hands tied" to follow the black-listing of NSW and the ACT.
Queensland and Norfolk Island residents have been able to freely move between the two territories without needing quarantine since July 10 but Mr Hutchinson said the island was ready and needed to allow NSW and ACT tourists to return.
"Tourism is the only way we can feed ourselves here because we our economy is so dependent on the visitors who come here," he said.
He said tourism accounted for up to 80 per cent of the island's economy and directly or indirectly employed about two thirds of the island's population, with many now on JobKeeper.
"The crystal clear reality that is apparent to the vast majority of the community here is that without visitors this island has no way of supporting itself outside of when JobKeeper and the other support the Commonwealth has provided ends," he said.
"It would be catastrophic for this community if we can't find a way of safely allowing visitors back to the island.
"We are inadvertently caught up in decisions being made by other jurisdictions because of where flights depart from and decisions that different state governments have made.
He said island officials had been pushing the Queensland Government for weeks to provide clarity on whether a decision to allow NSW and ACT tourists would affect the current arrangements.
If the decision did lead to the Queensland Government placing restrictions on travel between the territories he said it would "pretty much kill" the rebounding tourist market.
A Queensland Government spokesman said Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young was not aware of any contact from Norfolk Island officials.
A Queensland Health spokesman said Norfolk Island was not a hotspot and only travellers who had been in a declared hot spot in the past 14 days needed to quarantine.
But he did not specifically answer a question about whether restriction-free travel between Queensland and the island would change if tourists from NSW and the ACT were allowed to visit the island without quarantining.
Originally published as Island paradise on brink of tourism catastrophe