Queensland will reopen its border to Greater Sydney travellers from 1 December, just in time for your clients’ summer holidays.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the news at a press conference this morning, welcoming all of NSW to the state from 1am on 1 December.
“We know how tough this has been on families. This is a great day, this is exciting news,” she said.
Palaszcuk said the decision came after NSW celebrated 28 days with no community transmission of COVID-19.
“Dr Young is now satisfied that they have reached the 28 days. So, can I say to New South Wales, we will welcome you to Queensland from December 1,” she said.
“In further good news, tomorrow is the day Victoria will meet that threshold as well.
“I’ve advised the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews that if they reach that 28 days tomorrow, then they too will be open on 1st December.”
“Queensland is good to go. We want to see our tourism industry flourish and prosper.”
Premier Palaszcuk joked that it might be hard for travellers to find accommodation in some places, as a lot of tourism operators have told her they are booked out.
“But we do want to encourage families to get together before Christmas,” she said.
Off the back of this revelation, Qantas and Jetstar will operate 1,200 extra return flights into the Sunshine State from NSW and Victoria in the lead up to Christmas.
From 1 December, the two airlines will operate more than 250 return flights per week across seven routes from Sydney. This compares with just 36 return flights per week currently.
Pending a final decision from the Queensland government, Qantas and Jetstar will also operate more than 160 flights per week from Melbourne from 1 December. Jetstar will also operate four weekly services from Avalon to the Gold Coast from January.
“On behalf of tourism operators across all three states, we thank the Queensland government and Premier Palaszczuk,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
“New South Wales and Victoria have done such a great job getting the virus under control that it makes complete sense to open the borders to Sydney and Melbourne.
“Based on the demand we’re seeing already, Queenslanders can expect to welcome a lot more visitors in the next few months.”
Virgin Australia has welcomed the Queensland government’s decision to reopen the border to Greater Sydney by expanding frequencies and resuming several interstate services.
The airline’s customers will benefit from additional frequencies between Sydney and Brisbane, Sydney and the Gold Coast, Sydney and the Sunshine Coast, and Newcastle and Brisbane.
Virgin flights between Sydney and Cairns, Sydney and Hamilton Island and Sydney and the Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) will take-off again ahead of Christmas.
Russell Shaw, general manager of network and revenue management at Virgin, said: “We recognise our role as one of Queensland’s largest employers and our ability to contribute to both the Queensland and New South Wales tourism economies.
“The additional services will be timed to provide choice and convenience for customers, while at the same time give travellers the opportunity to do business and reconnect with loved ones, families and friends ahead of the well-earned Christmas break.
Shaw said Virgin and Tourism & Events Queensland are working together on a number of marketing initiatives designed to kick-start the tourism industry and show that Queensland is ready to welcome more travellers to the sunshine state.
“The initiatives will highlight the many wonderful things Queensland has to offer visitors, alongside the award-winning service and benefits of travelling with Virgin Australia,” he said.
As part of Virgin Australia’s ‘Passenger Promise’ and for peace of mind, the airline is continuing to provide flexibility to change bookings up until 31 January 2021 alongside a range of health and wellbeing reassurances.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Darren Rudd said agents around Australia are ready to help travellers make the most of the Queensland border reopening to Greater Sydneysiders and (eventually) Victorians.
“The reopening of the Queensland border to Greater Sydney and hopefully Victoria from December 1 is fantastic news as we head into the peak holiday season,” he said.
“There are plenty of great deals, destinations and experiences on offer, and our travel agents are proud to be working with Tourism & Events Queensland to promote them.”
Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long said the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time for hotels and motels in South East Queensland and metropolitan Sydney, which have been particularly hard-hit by the border closures.
“It’s also an important boost for hotels and motels in North Queensland including Cairns, with 80 per cent of their bookings from New South Wales, Victoria and internationally, so opening and keeping these borders is essential to having people employed again and the local economies kicking over,” he said.
“With the holiday season so close, we expect to see a very welcome surge in accommodation bookings up and down the east coast of Australia as we all celebrate the return to a more normal framework.
“For the 100,000 people who work within our industry and the many other businesses who rely on our sector, there will also be a sigh of relief after what has been an extremely tough year financially and psychologically.”
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that a similar announcement about Queensland being opened to Victoria is imminent.”
On 3 November, the Queensland government reopened its borders to NSW, except for the Greater Sydney area.
Currently, those from the Greater Sydney area and Vicotria are not allowed into Queensland.
The border reopening will mark the first time people from some areas of Sydney have been allowed into Queensland since mid-July.
[PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE PUBLISHING TO INCLUDE COMMENTARY FROM QANTAS, VIRGIN AUSTRALIA, THE AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION OF TRAVEL AGENTS, AND THE ACCOMMODATION ASSOCIATION.]
Featured image source: Facebook/Annastacia Palaszczuk