Tourism bosses on the Gold Coast have admitted the declaration of the whole of Sydney as a coronavirus hotspot is a major setback to the industry’s recovery.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed on Wednesday anyone from Greater Sydney will be banned from entering the sunshine state from 1am on Saturday.
Queenslanders returning from the hotspot from August 1 will also be forced into hotel quarantine at their own expense.
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The latest hotspot declaration comes following increased cases of community transmission in the Sydney area.
“We have seen more cases of community transmission spreading across a wider area of Sydney… This includes into areas frequented by tourists, travellers and large numbers of Sydney locals,” the Premier said.
Gold Coast tourism leaders said today’s announcement was no doubt a tough one to swallow, but conceded they know it has to be done to protect the health of Gold Coasters.
“This is an unprecedented and challenging time for the tourism sector and community at large,” Destination Gold Coast Executive Director of Marketing Carla Anderson said.
“The Queensland Government’s decision to declare greater Sydney a hotspot from Saturday, 1 August is a setback to Gold Coast’s tourism recovery, which has made strong headway to date.
“However the health and safety of Gold Coasters, visitors, businesses and our tourism community is the top priority.”
Ms Anderson revealed the ban on Sydneysiders, along with Victoria, will have an enormous impact on the local tourism industry.
“Gold Coast’s 60,000 strong-knit tourism workforce remains the backbone to the city’s $6 billion visitor economy and recovery is largely dependent on how long travel and border restrictions continue,” she said.
“The Gold Coast welcomed 665,000 Sydneysiders in the twelve months to March 2020 and they remain a key domestic visitor market.
“The extent this impact will have to Gold Coast tourism is too soon to tell, although we know that consumer travel sentiment and confidence is an important factor for stimulating demand.”
The cost of COVID-19 on the local tourism sector is estimated to be between $3.3 billion to $4.3 billion, with a potential loss of around six to nine million visitors.
“COVID-19 is a significant disruptor and the impact to Gold Coast’s visitor economy and chief economic driver cannot be understated,” Ms Anderson said.