Hotels

Accor’s Simon McGrath urges Queensland to set hard border opening date

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Queensland’s largest hotelier has warned the state faces a pitfall in occupancy rates without a hard border opening date.

Accor Pacific’s chief operating officer, Simon McGrath (pictured), said Queensland’s current border restrictions mean the state “will miss out on the summer dollar”, over a period he said was crucial for local businesses, the economy and jobs.

Accor operates around 100 properties across Queensland, with the company’s occupancy rates in the state hovering at around 30 per cent.

The hospitality giant believes more than 70 per cent of Queensland’s 30,000 hotel rooms and serviced apartments could sit unoccupied through the coming months, with the possibility Accor will be forced to close some of its hotels for the first half of 2021.

“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,” McGrath said.

“Queensland could go from leadership to last in the race for tourism … If Queensland misses this crucial booking window and JobKeeper 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.”

Based on current Google Trends data, 69 per cent of the 105 Queensland hotels listed by Google, at the time of writing, have availability.

The news comes as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the state did not record any new coronavirus cases overnight, with the state down to just five active cases.

In the past week, Queensland has recorded just two new local cases, both of whom were already in quarantine, Palaszczuk said, adding that another good day for the state will see a review occur on restrictions in South East Queensland.

As it stands, travellers arriving in Queensland are required to provide a valid Border Declaration Pass to enter the state, while travellers arriving from declared COVID-19 hotspots – NSW, Victoria, and the ACT – must go into 14 days of quarantine.

However, from Friday, the ACT will no longer be considered a COVID-19 hotspot, as long as there are no confirmed cases between 18 September and then.

Queensland is also set to shift its border zone, bringing in five NSW local government areas: Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, and Glen Innes.

Residents from these areas will be able to travel to Queensland, while Queenslanders will be allowed to freely travel into those NSW areas. However, Queenslanders will still need to apply for a border pass.

In added good news, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Queensland could reopen the border to all of NSW on 6 October, provided NSW Health authorities are able to trace every new COVID-19 case acquired until then.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian welcomed the partial reopening of Queensland to the five local government areas, but urged Premier Palaszczuk to “dispense with half-measures”, according to the outlet.

“We are always only a few days from another outbreak, but so is Queensland … it is time for the Queensland government to bring down the whole border,” Berejiklian said, according to SMH.

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