Gold Coast city leaders are celebrating the announcement that Queensland will reopen its borders to Greater Sydney on December 1.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the news this morning after New South Wales went more than 28 days with no linked cases of community transmission.
A decision on reopening to Victoria is expected on Wednesday.
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Mayor Tom Tate says it’s fantastic news for the Gold Coast.
“(It’s a) wonderful Christmas present for the city of the Gold Coast,” the Mayor said.
I know small business has done it tough, our airport and our tourism industry. This gives them the opportunity to absolutely highlight and reap the benefit for the summer school holidays.”
The Mayor is urging everyone in New South Wales to start planning their Gold Coast getaway as soon as possible.
“We’be got a whole week for New South Wales, 8 million of them, to look towards the Gold Coast and book their holiday with their families and friends.”
Destination Gold Coast Chairman Paul Donovan says the announcement is ‘huge’ for the industry after being decimated by the pandemic.
“This is fantastic news coming into Christmas where families will be able to enjoy the Gold Coast to holiday or reunite with their family,” Mr Donovan said.
“Fortunately it’s not too late, the airport people are in touch with the airlines and they’ll be putting on the flights.”
Mr Donovan says reopening to Sydney, the Gold Coast’s biggest interstate market, is a crucial step forward in the city’s recovery.
“This has opened up to all those people and the pent-up demand will be huge.
“We’re hoping to put on more and more flights and make sure that we can cater for the demands. ”
Mr Donovan says the pandemic has had a devastating financial impact but is now confident we can start to bounce back.
“Absolutely millions, hundreds of millions. But look as I say, take your hat off to the past and your coat off to the future. We’ve got to get into now and make sure we make every post a winner by getting as many people as we can to come here.”
The news is also a welcome relief for Gold Coast Airport which has resembled a ghost town for months.
The reopening to Sydney will see around 640 return flights between there and the Gold Coast during December.
At the moment there are just four a week.
Queensland Airports CEO Chris Mills says they are thrilled with the announcement.
“Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a recovery for Gold Coast Airport and all the businesses we support, which have been impacted by the dramatic reduction in flights and passengers since late March,” Mr Mills said.
“We are pleased the Queensland Government has made the announcement with enough notice for airlines to prepare and passengers to book flights. This will be a welcome boost for the tourism industry leading into the peak holiday period and allow friends and families to reconnect at Christmas.”
Village Roadshow Theme Parks Chief Operating Officer Bikash Randhawa says he had goosebumps when the news came through.
“Look this look this is probably the best news we’ve heard for 2020. I think it’s brilliant and you know, it’s time for us to move forward now and focus on what we do best is create jobs and entertainment and it’ll be fantastic to see people here from Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Randhawa said.
“I mean everyone in our office, I mean you look at everyone everyone’s happy. Everyone’s smiling and I’m sure across the city where tourism is so important. I think it’s brought a smile to every single person’s face.”
Mr Randhawa says the border reopening would mean more jobs at Village Roadshow’s theme parks heading into summer, after putting a recruitment drive on hold last month.
“By tomorrow we should have more clarity and the plan for summer is obviously looking different now so once we get a firm ‘yes’ as to what the border situation looks like we would be tweaking that.
“I can’t tell you exactly what that number is, but I think it will get pretty close to normal.”