$4b golden summer to sizzle for Qld tourism
QUEENSLAND is set for a golden summer with holiday hordes expected to inject more than $4 billion into the state's economy over the next two months.
Yesterday's call by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to reopen the Queensland border to New Zealand travellers, hot on the heels of the move to allow visitors from Sydney and Victoria, means the state's three biggest tourism markets are now free to return to Queensland.
With the stars finally aligning after a year of coronavirus-induced misery, tourism operators are again feeling optimistic for the first time since January.
The summer holiday period last year delivered a $3.2 billion injection into the state's tourism industry, but with a combination of reopened borders, pent-up demand and a lack of international options, Aussies are heading to Queensland in their droves.
Kiwis are expected to follow suit with New Zealanders free to enter Queensland from today without having to perform two weeks of hotel quarantine while South Australia has also been removed from the state's hot spot list.
Ms Palaszczuk said the decision came after New Zealand chalked up 28 consecutive days without a community-transmitted case of the coronavirus.
"Thanks to the diligence of Queenslanders, our state is about to open to all Australians and to our friends across the Tasman," she said.
"More Kiwis call Queensland home than any other state so I know this will mean a lot of happy Christmas reunions."
Traditional holiday haunts like the Gold and Sunshine coasts are reporting solid numbers, while even some lesser-frequented summer destinations such as the Granite Belt and Scenic Rim, are almost fully booked up until February.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said signs were promising for a bumper summer.
"It's shaping up to an absolutely huge summer which is a welcome relief," he said.
"Everything is lining up, which is fantastic after what we have endured in 2020.
"We would expect this summer to well above average."
Australians typically spend about $50 billion a year on overseas travel and local tourism leaders are optimistic at least some of that figure will this summer be redirected to the domestic market, with Queensland shaping as a major beneficiary.
NSW (4.5 million visitors a year) and Victoria (2.3m) make up the bulk of Queensland's visitor numbers, but New Zealand outperforms all other states with 489,000 Kiwis venturing to the Sunshine State last year.
The Kiwi market is also set to take on increased importance with continued tensions between Australia and China leaving many operators fearing for the future of our biggest international market.
New Zealand travellers injected $600m into the Queensland economy last year, with predictions that could be worth almost $200m to the state between now and February.
The Gold Coast is a major beneficiary of Kiwi travel, with 60,000 expats living on the Glitter Strip.
Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer Marion Charlton welcomed the border announcement, which brings Queensland in line with several other Australian states.
"This is an important step in re-establishing two-way, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand," she said.
"We hope the Australian and New Zealand governments can come to an agreement on opening two-way travel before Christmas, with a view to this starting in the first quarter of 2021."
Travellers from New Zealand will need to apply online for a free Australia Travel Declaration from the Department of Home Affairs, at least 72 hours prior to departure.
Some New Zealand flights are already operating into Brisbane to transport passengers into hotel quarantine, with the first 'COVID-safe' flights expected to arrive mid-next week.
Originally published as $4b golden summer to sizzle for Qld tourism