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By Stuart Layt and Tony Moore
June 30, 2020 — 5.35pm
Health, tourism experts welcome Queensland's border call
Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and not less than 24 hours, business and other purposes”.Tourism can be domestic (within the traveller’s own country) or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments.
Tourism numbers declined as a result of a strong economic slowdown (the late-2000s recession) between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, and in consequence of the outbreak of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, but slowly recovered. Globally, international tourism receipts (the travel item in balance of payments) grew to US$1.03 trillion (€740 billion) in 2005, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 3.8% from 2010. International tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012, emerging source markets such as China, Russia, and Brazil had significantly increased their spending over the previous decade. The ITB Berlin is the world’s leading tourism trade-fair. Global tourism accounts for c. 8% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
Health experts, tourism and business groups say Queensland has struck a good balance between keeping coronavirus at bay and reopening the state to visitors in its border reopening announced on Tuesday.
Queensland will open borders on July 10 with all other states and territories of Australia except for Victoria, which is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
Health, tourism experts welcome Queensland's border call
The border with Victoria will be strengthened, with anyone travelling from Victoria to Queensland, including Queenslanders, required to undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine at their own expense from Friday.
Public health expert Professor Gerry Fitzgerald said the measure struck a good balance between allowing movement and stopping the current virus cases in Victoria from making it to Queensland.
“The problem has always been if NSW is not stopping Victorians coming through then that was a problem for Queensland, but this measure – I guess it’s like a customs declaration – is a good compromise,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“Also, we have a sense that the border is mostly the highway, but it’s also the airlines, and that’s where most of the holidaymakers will come from, so overall it sounds like a reasonably good compromise.”
Public health physician and infectious diseases expert Associate Professor Linda Selvey agreed that the measure was a sensible way forward, but said the situation in Victoria should remind everyone the pandemic was still going on, despite the low case numbers in other parts of the country.
“We are in it for the long haul, and that’s actually an argument to reopen the borders,” Dr Selvey said.
“Until a vaccine is available and most Australians have been vaccinated we’re going to have to be expecting that we could have outbreaks.
“To try to avoid that happening completely, well, it’s not possible.”
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the decision was “a ray of sunshine to 240,000 employees” and thousands of tourism businesses in every part of Queensland.
“Interstate tourism contributed $9.2 billion to the Queensland economy last year and this announcement by the Premier will bring back a new ray of hope to all those people and their families,” Mr Gschwind said.
While short-break drive holidays have returned, south-east Queensland was missing the revenue from week-long and two-week stays from Victorians and Kiwis hunting Queensland’s winter sun.
“We fully understand the decision regarding Victoria and appreciate how hard a decision it must have been for the Premier and her government,” Mr Ryan said.
“But with the necessary precautions in place, we are confident that the travel situation can be managed effectively.”
Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista said tourism contributed 40 per cent of the Gold Coast’s $5.9 billion gross regional product.
“As a result of the COVID crisis, we expect up to 74 per cent financial loss to Gold Coast’s tourism sector this year and between 8 million to 10 million fewer visitors (from a total 14.2 million visitors in 2019),” she said.
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said he understood why Victorians would have to enter quarantine upon arriving in Queensland.
“I think it’s a hard call but, really, everyone’s health is at the forefront here,” Cr Tate said.
“My heart goes out to Victorians and I hope they can flatten their (positive infection) curve.
“But as far as the rest of Australia is concerned, we welcome everyone else back to having the school holidays here.”
Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington welcomed the announcement, saying it “ended the uncertainty” around the border issue.
“The LNP has been calling for the Premier to name a date for quite some time, so we’re pleased the Premier has eventually made that decision,” Ms Frecklington said.
Stuart Layt covers health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland political reporter for AAP.
Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times