Christophe Vanek of Queensland Yacht Charters welcomed the border reopening announcement this afternoon.
Christophe Vanek of Queensland Yacht Charters welcomed the border reopening announcement this afternoon.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: ’This is a big win for everybody’

THE reopening of the Queensland border has been labelled "a win" for the Whitsundays with tourism operators looking forward to welcoming tourists from other states.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced this afternoon that the border would reopen to visitors from NSW, SA, ACT, NT, WA and Tasmania from next Friday, July 10.

However, anyone who has travelled from Victoria, including Queenslanders, will be banned from entering or forced to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.

Today's announcement marked an end to more than three months of closures for the Queensland border, which took a serious toll on the region's businesses and operators.

Managing director of Queensland Yacht Charters Christophe Vanek said today's announcement was "a win" for tourism operators.

"We are very happy with the outcome and very happy to call back staff to work," he said.

"This is a big win for everybody and now to see boats going out, it's absolutely brilliant.

"Two months in the unknown and not knowing or not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is very depressing for people and this will boost their will to get on with life.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the border would be open to all states apart from Victoria from next Friday. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the border would be open to all states apart from Victoria from next Friday. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.

"At the end of the day we live on the tourism industry all the way up the coast and it would have been really dramatic if we had to keep the border closed for another couple of months."

The extended travel ban for Victorian travellers comes as the state recorded 64 cases of coronavirus today and 250 cases in the past week.

Mr Vanek said his charter company had been taking bookings in anticipation of the border reopening, but that Victoria's exclusion would not have a significant impact.

"(Victorian bookings) are a small percentage, and it's not 100 per cent perfect, it's probably only 80 per cent perfect, but it's better than nothing," he said.

Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce president Allan Milostic also welcomed next week's reopening, saying while Victorian tourists would be missed, it was a "massive step in the right direction".

"It will definitely have a positive impact," he said.

"It's definitely a step towards getting back to normality here.

"(Victorians) are a significant proportion of our southern visitors. They're roughly half of our winter catchment so that will be felt, but at least having New South Wales, South Australia and to some extent the other states and territories will help."

 

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Mr Milostic also welcomed the easing of other restrictions announced today including a change to limits on people in small businesses.

However, he said it would take the complete easing of restrictions and the reopening of international borders before the region could begin to fully recover.

"In order for businesses and operators to actually benefit from the increase in visitation allowed by travel restrictions easing, you need to relieve some of those other restrictions," he said.

"There's no point 1000 people being allowed into town but only being able to feed 500.

"Opening borders to tourism is an important proportion of the economy but it's not all of it either, I think the main thing is it's more a step towards normality."


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