More than 70 per cent of the 30,000 hotel rooms and apartments across Queensland could sit unoccupied through the coming months if border uncertainty persists, warned Australia’s leading hotel group.
Accor Pacific said that without a hard border reopening date, Queensland will miss out on the crucial summer dollar, which could lead to a wave of business closures and job losses for the first six months of 2021.
According to estimates by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland and the Queensland government, border closures are costing Queensland A$17 million (US$12.1 mil) a day.
Simon McGrath, COO for Accor Pacific, said: “The current border restrictions mean that Queensland will miss out on the summer dollar, a crucial period for local businesses, the economy and jobs. Now is when people are booking visits for the next three to six months and if they don’t have certainty that Queensland will be open, then Queensland will miss the surge in travel and fall behind other states. Queensland could go from leadership to last in the race for tourism.”
He highlighted that tourism annually contributes A$25 billion to the Queensland economy and employs 217,000 Queenslanders directly or indirectly.
“If Queensland misses this crucial booking window and JobKeeper (wage subsidy scheme) falls away, then some hotels will close for the first six months of 2021. This will significantly impair the state’s ability to bounce back; certainty is required now,” he added.
McGrath noted that the impacts to hotel businesses will have a knock-on effect for local business owners too. “The livelihoods of small business owners, from café owners, to restaurants to taxi drivers are at stake. We are urging the state government to use common sense, provide clarity and safely open up borders, which will set Queensland up for a stronger 2021 and save jobs. We all want to see local businesses thriving and workers return to work,” he said.
“A hard border reopening date will give the rest of Australia the certainty they need to make plans for the future, and people need to be assured that when borders do eventually open, they will stay open. As soon as we are certain of a border reopen date, Queensland should prepare for a big summer boom.”