‘Playing havoc with confidence’ border uncertainty crippling the event industry

The ongoing closure of borders is causing ongoing havoc for the events and wider tourism industry with calls for state and territory leaders to agree to a national border plan to avoid the continued economic damage seen last year.

“It’s so frustrating watching the continued coverage about the plight of airlines, hotels, cafés and restaurants, with an emphasis on how badly they have been done by during the pandemic whilst in reality they have traded far longer and received ongoing support in order to reopen and resume some level of trading,” said Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of Expertise Events.

“All the while, the events industry has been unable to resume due to States having their own rules and interpretations for restrictions and the ongoing border closures that are playing havoc with confidence.

“Though we might consider ourselves as one country, it’s a shame we aren’t acting that way.”

Fitz-Roy said that while some States have taken “a sensible pragmatic approach to the situation” others “refuse to collaborate… for political point scoring”.

Fitz-Roy said the events sector needs certainty that the borders will remain open; an extension of JobKeepr beyond March; a detailed plan about how venues will review pricing to encourage the return of events; and for state governments to cover the Covid specific costs associated with staging events.

“We just want the opportunity to get back to doing what we do best,” he said. “We deliver an important role in re-igniting industries and stimulating buying and education, both of which can only be good for recovery post-Covid.”

Federal Queensland MP David Littleproud also said the state premiers were “failing Australia”.

“They play parochial politics by shutting down borders and acting tough on one another, but it’s the taxpayers who will pay for it,” he told The Courier Mail.

“It’s an infringement on rights and liberty and freedom of movement, but also about the economy.”

Australian Tourism Industry Council chief executive Simon Westaway called on the premiers to stop calling lockdowns and border closures at the “drop of a hat”.

“There’s gloom and there’s frustration about the future,” he told The Courier Mail.

“People are starting to throw their hands up in the air and say ‘it’s all too hard’.”

Felicia Mariana, CEO of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council, told 3AW a national border framework was essential.

“The industry has been calling for a national approach to the border closure,” she said.

“Right now everyone is operating independently, the borders are slamming shut without much notice form state to state, and it is wreaking havoc with our industry.

“People are now afraid to book for interstate travel because no-one wants to get stuck on the wrong side of a border closure.”