Regional travel restrictions lifted in NSW
Regional weekend getaways and holidays in the country will be back on from next month, with the state government to allow recreational regional travel in less than two weeks.
NSW residents will be allowed to holiday anywhere in the state from June 1, providing a major boost to the regions.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian told The Daily Telegraph in an interview the regions would be critical to the state's economic return, and she saw a major market for tourism spend locally.
"Even if some states don't let us travel there we'll invite the other states here," she said.
She noted that money previously spent on overseas travel would be a new tourism market for NSW.
Unique insights from Australia's ultimate political insider. Join Graham Richardson 8pm Wednesdays, Sky News. For more
"If people are spending their dollars locally that has huge opportunities for us. The key is keeping people in jobs," she said.
Ms Berejiklian also revealed she and her senior team had closely discussed and considered a region-by-region approach to rolling back restrictions but ruled it out.
"We discussed a regional approach as a team but I think economic activity flourishes across the state if there's simplicity and state-wide laws," she said.
"It's difficult to police if you have restrictions like that and it doesn't help generate economic activity".
Deputy Premier John Barilaro told The Daily Telegraph the move to open up the state will boost the regions by "hundreds of millions of dollars in the short term (and) billions of dollars long term".
Opening up the state for regional holidays will also give rural towns the opportunity for an economic hit to get them through quieter months.
"So for many businesses ... June is the last chance to get their cash registers, filled with cash that will tide them over the quiet months of winter," Mr Barilaro said.
"I was very strong around Easter, I said, 'I look forward to seeing you around Christmas, and I'll buy your first beer,'" Mr Barilaro told The Daily Telegraph.
"Well Christmas has come early, that shout is on me. June one is the day we're going to want to see people into regional NSW."
Mr Barilaro said sentiment in the regions has changed from initial "anxiety about importing the virus," with people now confident the virus is being managed, and the health system has the capacity to deal with any potential outbreaks.
Looking at June, "about 70% of people in regional or rural NSW, are neutral to the idea or positive to the idea of people coming to the region," he said.
The government has been gauging sentiment in the regions through Service NSW research.
"Every region that we've put research in now clearly shows that they're all positive to having the regions open up for economic benefit."
A government official said would-be holiday makers could expect airlines to boost flights to the regions when restrictions are eased, in line with the increase in demand.
"We want you to follow the guidelines we want you to of course abide by social distancing rules, that is important, but we also want to welcome you into the regions again," he said.
Mr Barilaro said that while the Queensland border remain shut, they will miss the economic uplift interstate tourism will bring.
"There's no reason across the border, come to the regions instead," he said.