‘No guarantees’: Tourists warned as WA shut out
Queensland's border has snapped closed to Perth just hours after the state's tourism minister launched a new campaign to attract interstate tourists but offered them no guarantees they wouldn't be locked out.
Amid revelations Queensland lost out on $200 million of tourist spending when it closed to Greater Sydney in January, it was last night announced travellers from Perth and its surrounds would now need to hotel quarantine following a COVID-19 case of community transmission there.
It came as the federal government again called on the Palaszczuk Government to do more to shape consistent rules around border closures for travellers.
Just hours before the 6pm closure, Stirling Hinchliffe said he was "not going to be able to make declarations today that give absolute certainty about the decisions about the border" even as he relaunched the state's Good to Go advertising campaign to provide a shot to a struggling tourism industry.
"The Premier's not done that, I'm not going to be able to do that today, we're going to be following the health advice," he said.
He did predict there would be more "short, sharp lockdowns", and said the states were still working through a nationally-consistent hotspot definition.
As Australia opened back up to New Zealand tourists, Mr Hinchliffe said he was buoyed by confirmation the federal government would consider targeted assistance for the tourism industry when JobKeeper ends in March.
But he said details were needed now because operators "will have to be giving people notice of ending their employment quite soon".
It came as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mocked Ms Palaszczuk's request for the extension of JobKeeper as cheeky, "to put it lightly", amid criticism the Palaszczuk Government was looking for a handout after damaging its own tourism industry through border closures.
Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said states needed to "play their part".
"And the Queensland Premier could play her part in that, that would be wonderful for the Queensland tourism economy," he said.
"And if we could get that consistency, that would provide certainty to the sector."
Business groups welcomed pending federal assistance as they called for more certainty too.
CCIQ spokeswoman Amanda Rohan said knowing how decisions would be made around hotspot and border declarations would enable planning.
"Uncertainty is damaging to both consumer and business confidence," she said.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the industry hoped to avoid further wholesale border closures.
"They have been really detrimental to any kind of consumer confidence and we hope that we see great tracing and testing regimes and a better understanding of how the transmissions happen," he said.
"We certainly hope we can avoid that and if necessary have a hotspot approach, but avoid border closures.
"That is a very important issue for us."
Australia's largest private hotelier, Sydney cosmetic surgeon Dr Jerry Schwartz, said he was looking forward to welcoming Sydneysiders back to his two Gold Coast properties after the border reopening.
But Dr Schwartz, who owns the Paradise Resort and Hilton Surfers Paradise hotels, said border closures were killing the tourism industry and called for a 'consistent national approach' to managing COVID-19 outbreaks.
"Uncertainty kills tourism," he said.
"Potential visitors will want to know they can book a reasonable time ahead and that in most cases they will be able to take their holiday without disruption.
"Of course, we always need to take into consideration the medical advice, but if the Gold Coast's tourism sector is to revive, then everyone will benefit from a more consistent national approach to borders."
Dr Schwartz said the Coast desperately needed a constant flow of interstate and New Zealand visitors heading into the quieter post-Christmas period.
"I have invested over $20 million upgrading my Gold Coast properties in the past year, so a major upturn in interstate travel is a massive priority for 2021," he said.
Originally published as 'No guarantees': Tourists warned as WA shut out