Tourism leaders urge states and territories to open their borders

Tourism groups are calling for state borders to open sooner rather than later, saying prolonged closure “serves no purpose”.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took some by surprise when she called for a travel bubble between the NT, South Australia and WA but left out NSW and Victoria, saying they should wait until September before borders were opened.

The tourism sector has said that prolonging the closure of borders will inflict further damage to their $150 billion industry.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway said states and territory governments should follow the national cabinet roadmap to remove border controls no later than mid-year.

“It serves no purpose for a scattered and long drawn out approach to the removal of state and territory borders,” he said.

“If it is good enough to have a beer or a meal in a socially-distant setting across all states and territories, it surely is good enough to have clearly-articulated and declared dates for hard border lifting.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief Daniel Gschwind said the sector wanted the state to fully open the borders in July.

“July would be fine with us, and that was the roadmap that was released, and the Premier’s left it all open, as far as I understand, by saying ‘we are reviewing the restrictions at the end of every month’,” Gschwind said.

“We hope that even at the end of May the forward-looking plans would still include the possibility of opening the borders in July.”

Visit Sunshine Coast chief Simon Latchford also said they would like to see the border “opened up as early as possible”

“The southern states can really revitalise our market, but equally we understand the Premier’s desire to minimise the health risk,” he said.

Commonwealth deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said closing state borders was not based on medical advice given to the national cabinet.

“At the national level, we’ve never suggested that internal borders within Australia should be closed,” he said.

Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham would not be drawn into the fray but urged the importance of the tourism industry to the broader economy.

“If one or two states were to hold out, then they will be answerable to their tourism industry and will ultimately need to provide additional support to that industry,” Birmingham said.