Ongoing uncertainty around border closures and COVID-19 restrictions in the lead-up to school holidays has brought another wave of cancellations and anxious waits for would-be travellers.
- Occupancy rates over the holidays have already dropped by around 20 per cent in Far North Queensland
- For some businesses, this winter could be make or break and depend on any border announcements
- Accommodation providers in south-east Queensland have had cancellations from southern travellers but things are not as dire
Graham Mannering and his family are hoping to travel from Melbourne up to Cairns this weekend but are waiting to see if they will be allowed to enter the state.
“We’re desperate just to see some sun, a bit of beach time, and just some relaxation away from the cold of Victoria,” Mr Mannering said.
It is not the first time the Mannerings have had to cancel their holidays since the start of the pandemic and he said they have got until Thursday to make a decision.
“If it’s a no-go, then it’s a quick rush to cancel everything,” he said.
“I don’t personally blame Queensland for them closing the borders down — it’s just a predicament of the pandemic that we currently have both in Australia and it’s even worse elsewhere,
Waiting with ‘bated breath’
Andrea Cameron runs tours in Far North Queensland and said things were looking optimistic in May but since the latest outbreak, 20 per cent of her bookings have been cancelled.
“Most of my tours this week are going to go out half-full — my phone hasn’t even rung this morning — it’s only rung with cancellations,” she said.
“We are seeing some people moving to October and November … but we all know that things just change on a daily basis.
“I’m just waiting now really with bated breath to see what’s going to happen in these school holidays.
Ms Cameron said she still supported Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision on closing the borders to travellers from hotspots and hoped people from other regions would fill the newly created vacancies.
“South-east Queenslanders that may have wanted to come up here on holiday and they haven’t been able to get in because the Victorians and the New South Wales [travellers] got in first — well, we’re suggesting now pick up the phone because you might just find that you can get back in now and we’d love to see you,” she said.
Winter could be make or break
It is a similar story across Far North Queensland, with Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen saying occupancy rates over the holidays have already dropped by around 20 per cent.
“It makes a real impact, so we were looking at forward occupancies through the school holidays getting closer to 90 per cent across all forms of accommodation and that’s definitely now down into the 70 [per cent range],” Mr Olsen said.
He said for some businesses this winter could be make or break, and it would probably depend on any border announcements in the next few days.
‘What the business is nowadays’
In south-east Queensland, accommodation providers have also seen cancellations from southern travellers but things were not as dire.
Graham Bradford, who manages a resort in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, said while cancellations were an administrative hassle, it was “just part of what the business is nowadays”.
He said they had mostly managed to fill vacancies with new bookings.
“Noosa normally sees the same occupancies all year round, so we normally do have a demand here,” he said.
“Things are busy, people are continuing to book, and I think it’s given people the opportunity to stay at home and have stay-vacations more.”
A spokesperson for Queensland Health said in a statement it was continuing to monitor the situation in Victoria.
“With Victoria announcing last week that they will continue to have some local restrictions in place, the hotspot will remain in place for Greater Melbourne at this time,” the spokesperson said.
“We will review the border restrictions for Greater Melbourne as Victoria continues to ease restrictions locally.
“Anyone who has been in Greater Melbourne in the last 14 days is only able to enter Queensland if they are a returning Queensland resident or required to enter for a limited range of essential reasons.
“Queensland residents returning to Queensland from a hotspot must quarantine for 14 days on entering Queensland in government-arranged accommodation at their own expense.”