Unofficial long weekend sizzles to tune of $300m
The final fling of the summer holidays has delivered an estimated $300 million windfall to the Queensland economy.
With Australia Day falling on a Tuesday, thousands of Queenslanders booked an extra day of annual leave - or took a good old-fashioned sickie - to create an epic four-day weekend ahead of the return to work and school today.
It comes after promising signs that saw $2.7 billion pumped into the state's tourism industry during the September quarter, in another injection of good news for an industry left reeling by border closures and travel bans.
From July to September, Queenslanders injected an average of $30 million a day into the state's tourism industry according to statistics released this month by Tourism Research Australia.
That figure is expected to be more than doubled by holiday-makers over the summer break, with operators reporting a booking blitz over the weekend, with fine weather, an easing of Brisbane's hot spot restrictions and the last chance to revel in the summer holidays combining to create a bonanza worth an estimated $300 million.
It's a belated Christmas present for an industry that has bled more than $10 billion since the first case of the coronavirus amid dire predictions that up to a quarter of the state's tourism businesses could go broke in the coming months.
However, TRA's latest data shows Queensland is continuing to weather the COVID crisis better than any other state, with major rivals NSW and Victoria each recording significantly bigger drops in tourism revenue.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who visited the state's north over the break, said it was heartening to see people enjoying the final days of the break.
"Our tourism industry has done it tough over the last 12 months (so) it's been great to see so many people out and about over the last few days - spending money in their local communities, supporting local jobs," she said.
"The Good to Go tourism campaign continues to pay off for Queensland businesses.
"We're urging Aussies to book a holiday in Queensland in 2021.
"No matter what you're looking for, there's something for everyone here in Queensland."
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said there had been encouraging reports from operators across the state.
"There has been some really good booking activity which has been very positive after all the uncertainty over the past 12 months," he said.
Huge crowds hit the beaches on the Gold Coast and further north on the Sunshine Coast, making the most of perfect weather before getting back to the grind today.
Originally published as Unofficial long weekend sizzles to tune of $300m