The Gold Coast’s struggling tourism industry has been dealt another major blow today, with confirmation Queensland’s border will remain shut to Greater Sydney.
While the sunshine state will reopen to regional NSW from November 3, millions of people from both Victoria and 32 local government areas in Sydney will remain banned from entering the state.
Speaking to myGC following the shock announcement, Destination Gold Coast Chairman Paul Donovan said he has been left “shocked and shattered” by the decision.
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“Its a terrible blow to get that news… We were hoping that Sydney would open up, we need Sydney to open up,” Mr Donovan said.
“From tourism’s point of view, it’s a real blow and hopefully there will be a plan come out soon to show a pathway to getting Sydney open… I’m just so frustrated by the whole thing.”
Mr Donovan said the decision to allow the rest of NSW into Queensland but ban people from Sydney “doesn’t make any sense”.
“I think the decision hasn’t been thought through properly… Because you can actually drive from Newcastle or Wollongong to Sydney Airport and mix with people there that will have to go into quarantine when they get here, but then they won’t and its like what’s this about?
“What about mixing with people that work at the airport who live in the Greater Sydney area? What about people that will fly into the airport that have to be quarantined?
“So you’re going to have people from those areas that don’t have to quarantine, mixing with people that do have to quarantine?”
Mr Donovan said he “doesn’t know who’s been preparing the plans but maybe they should revisit them”.
The decision to remain closed to Sydney comes in the lead up to the normally busy Christmas period, but tourism leaders said the impact on the local economy will be felt “well beyond that”.
“Everyone was really hoping it would open up… The impact on the Gold Coast economy is going to be huge,” Mr Donovan said.
“Gold Coast business owners are going to be shocked and saddened, and that’s all you can really say.”
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate had similar thoughts on the decision and urged the State Government to consider opening up the border to all of NSW before the summer holidays.
“While I’m pleased that things continue to open up I know how important the Sydney market is to our tourism industry and this is another blow to them,” the Mayor said in a statement.
“We need to be guided by the medical advice but I believe our borders need to open to Sydney for the summer holidays.”
Despite the blow, Destination Gold Coast said the focus will now shift to targeting other markets who are allowed into the state.
“We now need to regroup… We’ve just put a lot of money towards advertising in Sydney to attract people there with a view that it would open up, I’m just bewildered” Mr Donovan said.
“We’ve been doing okay, the flights from Canberra are good, the flights that are coming from South Australia are okay, but Sydney was the area we needed desperately.
“I’m not heartbroken, but I’m shattered because we were all really hoping”.