Favourite tourist activities to resume across Queensland

How the tourism and accommodation industry is ensuring your safety.

Popular tourism attractions like hot air balloon rides, scenic flights, charter boat and bus tours have been cleared to resume in Queensland following the approval of the Tourism and Accommodation COVID Safe Plan.

Details of the plan, which clears the way for the opening of tourism operations across the state under the COVID-safe guidelines, have been released after approval by the Queensland Chief Health Officer.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) said the health management issues were complex for many businesses but “the plan should give operators guidance to return to business with increased confidence and in the knowledge that they can provide a COVID-safe work environment for staff and customers”.

QTIC CEO Daniel Gschwind said the plan was an important step to recovery for the sector.

“It’s another step in the recovery of business and a return to business so (they) can viably operate and offer a safe environment for customers and workers. It’s terrific news,” Mr Gschwind said.

Experiences such as hot air balloon rides and bus tours are described as “approved options” in the plan.

The plan says “approved options” must “allow for social distancing in a range of unique environments including vessels, buses, boats, aircraft, gondolas and other vehicles”.

“The 1.5m social distancing rule accounts for the range (cough distance) at which it is considered ‘COVID safe’ to be around strangers,” the plan states.

It also proposes the maximum travel time in enclosed vehicles and vessels be restricted to two hours, matching the limit set for enclosed dining venues in the COVID-safe plan for the restaurant and catering industry.

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As well as increased cleaning and personal hygiene procedures, the plan also recommends the provision of “touchless solutions” for ticketing, payment, vending and booking where possible.

The plan states businesses should also give preference to electronic menus and other means of communication and encourage the use of “environmentally sustainable disposable items” such as disposable towels, cutlery, plates and coffee cups.

Operators of Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights, near Ipswich, said they were planning to re-open in mid-June but were uncertain how the tourism industry COVID-safe plan would impact their business.

“We’re going through the plan now,” a spokesperson said.

“We do actually have a hot air ballooning COVID-safe plan the industry has put together and we’re looking at the two to see where it fits.

“Our original plan was actually stricter than the plan that has come out. For example, we had in our plan that face masks were required but in the Queensland tourism plan it does not say they are necessary.”

She said Floating Images was aiming to begin operating again in mid-June.

The spokesperson said because of social distancing requirements it would initially cater for bookings from families, couples and private groups.

She hoped it could cater for mixed groups under the further easing of restrictions scheduled for July. 

Key points

The four key criteria for tourism businesses to resume operating under the plan are:

  1. Promote and facilitate pre-screening to prevent potentially infected staff and customers from attending. 
  2. Alter business practices where relevant to ensure social distancing in line with government health guidelines.
  3. Enhance cleaning and hygiene practices to reduce the risk of infection.
  4. Establish and maintain COVID-safe procedures aligned to Work Safe Queensland guidelines.