‘Devastating blow’: Queensland’s tourism industry ‘at the end of the line’ as Brisbane lockdowns crush campaigns encouraging interstate travel

  • The Brisbane lockdowns will be a “devastating blow” for Queensland’s tourism industry, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council Daniel Gschwind told Business Insider Australia.
  • Despite a $1.2 billion tourism rescue package, the sector continues to suffer from tepid consumer confidence as Australian’s question travelling interstate amid the threat of rolling lockdowns.
  • “Now the entire state is affected by the reputational issues because people will not want to travel to Queensland,” Gschwind said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

As Greater Brisbane hunkers down for a lockdown that will last at least until Thursday, Queensland’s tourism sector’s hopes for recovery have been crushed, after more than a year without international tourists and rolling lockdows restrictions.

The coronavirus circuit breaker wipes out much-needed Easter holiday bookings, with millions of people across the five local government areas that encompass Greater Brisbane locked in until at least Thursday night.

School students, hospitality workers and guests at weddings and funerals have also been left in the lurch by the strict new measures, which were imposed on Monday afternoon.

The lockdowns come as the JobKeeper wage subsidy ends, and amid a $1.2 billion tourism rescue package that has already been accused of leaving the tourism sector behind.

“It’s a real blow to the confidence of travellers,” chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council Daniel Gschwind told Business Insider Australia.

He said the message it sends to consumers is that their travel plans are in jeopardy and that they may have trouble leaving Queensland if they travel there.

“Many trips have been cancelled; many events obviously in Brisbane but also beyond. And the damage will be long lasting,” Gschwind said.

He said while he understands the public health requirements, “lockdowns are simply catastrophic for businesses.”

‘Many businesses are at the end of the line,” he said, with this latest disruption very likely to result in businesses failing.

“Many of them are reporting devastating cancellation rates.”

“A small business now, instead of making headway over Easter, they’re now looking at losses of upwards of $20,000. Another just lost $100,000 over Easter alone,” he said.

“The lockdowns are only for Brisbane but now the entire state is affected by the reputational issues because people will not want to travel to Queensland.”

Australian states reimpose restrictions

Today, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told NSW residents to postpone travel to Queensland if possible, saying lockdowns may be extended in coming days, but stopped short of implementing an official travel ban.

South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania all said on Monday they were closing their borders to Greater Brisbane ahead of a lockdown of the city.

What does this mean for domestic tourism?

The new lockdowns hitting just before Easter, one of the busiest travel periods of the year, smashes federal and state government attempts to buoy the struggling tourism industry.

On top of the tourism rescue package, on March 17 Tourism Australia announced a $12 million initiative aimed at supporting tourism businesses across Australia in their recovery by helping them to better market their experiences and attractions.

In early March, Tourism Australia launched an Australia-wide ‘Holiday Here This Year’ campaign, with a strong focus on partnerships with hotels and metropolitan tourism companies.