Accommodation sector calls for consultation after sudden schoolies ban

The accommodation sector has called for increased consultation from the Queensland Government after its sudden decision to ban this year’s schoolies on the Gold Coast.

Queensland schoolies week was scheduled to begin on November 21, followed by two weeks of NSW and Victorian schoolies.

Last year’s schoolies drew more than 18,000 school-leavers to Surfers Paradise.

“The pandemic means we cannot have mass gatherings,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Parents need to know their children’s safety comes first. We do not want them contracting or spreading COVID-19.”

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said schoolies was “high risk” and will impose public health restrictions on event planners to shut down beach parties this year.

“It poses a high risk, a high risk, not only the people who attend, all the young people, but also all the people they come in contact with, and of course their families and their friends and their grandparents,” she said.

“So, we’ve had to take that very tough decision. So there will be, unfortunately, no concerts, no organised events, because there can be no mass gatherings.”

But the Accommodation Association of Australia says there needs to be a more balanced approach when making decisions that affect the broader business community and called for greater consultation from government.

“We need to be consulted especially on decisions with long lead times such as the Schoolies decision in Queensland so that the decisions Governments are making incorporate the reality of businesses’ operational needs,” said Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long.

“Of course the immediate priority of government is keeping people safe and protecting lives.

“We get that but we do need a far more practical and collaborative approach when it comes to the decision-making that impacts businesses, business owners and the people we employ.

“We need to be working far more closely together to better plan for and manage future events, and mass gatherings that drive overnight stays and the solution is a task force.”

Palaszczuk said school leavers could still book accommodation around the state.

“There is nothing wrong with small groups of people finishing school, booking somewhere close to where they live as well,” she said.

“So long as they actually abide by those rules and regulations that are set in place for hotel accommodation, then there is nothing to worry about.”