Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated hopes Australian holidaymakers could take domestic getaways during the upcoming school holidays.
Speaking to the press late last week in Canberra, Morrison said all states and territories were moving through the first phase of the government’s three-step framework for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, a week on from National Cabinet’s agreement to the approach.
The Prime Minister said that as “borders fall internally” with eased restrictions – arriving in phases two and three – the domestic tourism market would open to potentially billions of dollars in business.
“Australians can hopefully soon return to domestic holidays and to move around the country more widely, and particularly with school holidays coming up again in July,” Morrison told reporters on Friday.
“We are reminded that the net tourism imports to Australia is just over $20 billion a year.
“Now, that’s up for grabs for Australian domestic tourism operators – Australians who might otherwise go elsewhere. That is a very large market and that will be targeted.”
Morrison said he had been in discussion with the Minister for Tourism on working with Tourism Australia, and state and territory agencies that are responsible for tourism, to focus on seeing tourism’s potential realised as Australia’s domestic tourism industry gets back on its feet.
Tourism, he said, will be an important employer, particularly in regional areas.
The briefing came in the wake of Thursday’s news of 600,000 job losses recorded across Australia in April alone.
Job advertisements are also down 65.6 per cent year-on-year for the month, according to SEEK employment data. Moreover, hospitality and tourism was a leading contributor to that decline – with a month-on-month drop in listings of 59.6 per cent.
South Australia and Queensland stand firm on keeping borders closed
It comes as the premiers for South Australia and Queensland bucked calls to open their borders by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Speaking to the press, Berejiklian said she was “very open” about her stance against border shutdowns in most other states but said it was a “matter for them”.
“I’d probably feel offended if they told me how to do my job,” she said.
“[But] I often joke with the Queensland Premier that I’ll end up going to Auckland before I go to Brisbane if we continue the way we are going.”
Berejiklian said she hoped if NSW continued to demonstrate strong infection control other states would be comfortable easing border restrictions.
Of Australia’s 7,000 coronavirus cases, more than 3,000 have been reported in NSW. Health officials from the state have reported 416 active cases, and one new case of COVID-19 since 8pm Friday.
Addressing Berejiklian’s comments, South Australia Premier Steven Marshall told The Advertiser his government had no interest in such a move on the state’s borders.
Despite reporting another day of new cases on Sunday, and zero active cases, SA health officials remain concerned about a second wave of coronavirus cases, which is being seen in destinations like South Korea.
“We don’t want to give up on all the hard-earned gains we have made,” Marshall told The Advertiser.
“We don’t have any intention of opening up our borders at the moment. That may change later in the year.
“We are hopeful that we might be able to get back to a far more ‘normal’ situation with our economy sooner, particularly without new cases coming across our border.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk echoed Marshall’s comments and told reporters border restrictions would remain.
“I make absolutely no apologies for protecting the health of Queenslanders. I make no apologies for that,” she said, as reported by ABC News.
“Those border restrictions will remain in place whilst there is active community transmission in NSW and Victoria.
“It would be absolutely negligent of me to lift those restrictions with that community transmission happening in NSW and Victoria.
“We will review it at the end of each month. I’ve made that commitment.”
As of Sunday, Queensland has 12 active COVID-19 cases across the state, with no new cases recorded overnight.
Featured image: iStock/ChristianB