‘Golden opportunity’ looms for border reopening
A JUNE 20 interstate border reopening will give Mackay Whitsunday tourism businesses the certainty they are desperate for.
That's what Opposition tourism spokesman David Crisafulli put forward when he stopped in Mackay on Wednesday as part of his week-long road trip through Queensland's struggling tourism destinations.
Mr Crisafulli called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to "give businesses the notice they need" by making an announcement on the borders as soon as possible.
"I want to see as much notice as possible, I want to see strong leadership and a definitive course of action," he said.
"I would like to think the June 20 would present a golden opportunity for us - that's two weeks from the rallies we saw across the country."
Airlie Beach's Red Cat Adventures co-owner Julie Telford said Whitsunday tourism operators needed some certainty to be able to accept forward bookings for the NSW school holidays, starting July 9.
"It was great the government opened up Queensland so we could have some state travel," Ms Telford said.
"We are seeing a massive dip in bookings straight after the Queensland holidays.
"Ideally, we would love the interstate borders to be open before the NSW holidays."
Ms Telford said she supported the premier's road map for reopening the state, saying it had kept her family, staff and community safe.
The company suspended payments to operators who use its product WebsiteTravel.
Red Cat Adventures was left $161,000 out of pocket and was forced to downsize its team of staff from 32 to eight due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"Financially, it has been devastating," Ms Telford said.
But Red Cat Adventures is optimistic about the future and its team is looking forward to restarting trips from next week.
Burdekin MP Dale Last said the State Government had not offered adequate support to small businesses during the pandemic.
"While every other state was providing grants to small business, Queensland offered loans," Mr Last said.
"Regional Queensland could have, and should have, been open for business a long time ago but we have a State Government currently that is focused purely on the southeast corner."