‘If we’re not an option, they’ll simply go somewhere else’
THE success of the silly season in the Whitsundays hinges on whether the border will reopen completely to southern states, according to the airport chief.
About 168,000 travellers passed through Whitsunday Coast Airport in September.
This rose to 220,000 in October when the border between Queensland and NSW opened for all areas except Greater Sydney.
Whitsunday Coast Airport's chief operating officer for aviation and tourism Craig Turner said for this number to continue to rise, the border would need to be open to all of Australia.
Queensland is still off limits to Victorians, residents of Greater Sydney and most recently, Adelaide.
Mr Turner said if the border reopened, there would be an extra nine flights a week from Sydney and Melbourne on top of the 20 already arriving from Brisbane.
"That would bring our seats for the month of December to 43,000," he said.
"Last December, we did 47,000 seats.
"It's all dependent on the borders … if the borders open to Sydney and Melbourne, I'd expect we will have a really good Christmas."
However, the potential to capitalise on the Christmas break is time sensitive as people begin to look elsewhere for their summer holidays.
"If the borders open later, people (will have) already booked to go somewhere else," Mr Turner said.
"People aren't going to wait for two weeks before Christmas to try and book something.
"If we're not an option, they'll simply go somewhere else."
Mr Turner said easing the lockout would also help businesses build up some resilience for what he predicted might be a tough start to the year.
February and March are typically the peak time for tourists travelling into the country for Chinese New Year.
With international borders still closed, this market has been completely lost.
"We need the border open in the hope that people from Victoria and South Australia travel a bit later too and come up for week-long holidays that weren't normally planned," Mr Turner said.
When the Queensland border reopened to the majority of NSW, Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said the State Government would review reopening to Greater Sydney at the end of November.