COVID uncertainty devastates businesses
High vaccination rates seen as vital for tourism industry's recovery.
Queensland’s embattled tourism industry providers are looking to increased COVID vaccination rates giving them hope for the future.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said businesses were struggling amid the continued uncertainty of COVID lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria, and the ongoing risk of more outbreaks in Queensland.
“It's that uncertainty that’s the worst aspect,” Mr Gschwind said.
“That’s the uncertainly for businesses who do not know how they can plan and prepare both in terms of staffing, investments and their ongoing viability, but also the uncertainty for consumers.
“Every time there is a new measure introduced – a border closure or a lockdown here or anywhere else – it destroys any confidence that people might have to book for the future and every time it gets worse.”
Mr Gschwind said the tourism industry and those who relied on it had been affected by a loss of hope.
“They don't see an end to this and that's been totally devastating,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether a lockdown is here or where the customers are. Either way, the tourism industry is impacted and the pipeline is broken and business is not taking place.
“The cumulative effect is what is so soul-destroying.”
Tourism Research Australia data released before the pandemic showed the industry employed more than 235,000 people across Queensland and contributed more than $27 billion to the state’s economy.
The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) reported Australian tourism operators were losing more than $6 billion per month due to international travel bans and state border closures.
Pandemic takes toll on tourism
Mr Gschwind said Queensland’s tourism industry and its communities had developed a reputation for being extremely resilient in the face of natural disasters like cyclones and floods, bushfires and drought.
However, that resilience was being tested like never before.
“When you cannot see the end of a crisis and you get knocked down many times, it gets harder and harder to dust yourself off and stand up and that's what's happened to our industry,” he said.
“We get a lot of very distraught phone calls now from operators who are reaching the end of the line, financially and emotionally, and that has been really difficult.”
Mr Gschwind said some parts of Queensland, including regions within a short drive from Brisbane and those on the traditional routes of caravanners and “grey nomads”, have had some brighter periods.
However, even those areas were now feeling the effects of extended interstate lockdowns.
“I know that the outback, after an extremely busy start to this winter season, has certainly felt the cold chill of the lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria,” Mr Gschwind said.
“Going from fully booked, in many cases, to all bookings lost was a very, very dramatic cliff that some operators came over.”
The Federal Government’s COVID roadmap sets 80% vaccination coverage as a milestone for allowing more freedoms for Australians and reduced likelihood of widespread lockdowns.
The measures triggered at this point could see vaccinated Australians made exempt from all domestic and outbound travel restrictions.
Mr Gschwind said it was important for communities to move forward without the threat of lifestyle restrictions.
“We know that we're all learning how to deal with this, but deal with it is what we must do,” he said.
“This is not about business greedily wanting to get its revenue up. This is about the community being able to function again.”
How to get vaccinated
Queenslanders should register their interest in getting a COVID-19 vaccine to secure an appointment at one of Queensland Health’s vaccination locations across the state.
Once registered, you will be asked to book an appointment in your local area when they become available.
Eligible Queenslanders can also make an appointment via the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at an approved General Practice (GP), GP-led respiratory clinic, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Service, or a participating community pharmacy.