Queensland border restrictions: Victorians forced to cancel winter escapes

Melbourne grandmother Jenny Folley was looking forward to her visit to the Gold Coast in July. 

Her daughter and grandchildren recently returned from the Philippines on a government repatriation flight, but the ongoing Queensland border restrictions mean she will miss her grandson's birthday party.

"I haven't seen him for almost a year and a half so it's hard," Ms Folley said. "I was very keen to join him for his 6th birthday.

"The fact I can't go in now is heartbreaking."

The restrictions on Victorians entering Queensland once the state's borders reopen next Friday is causing headaches for holidaymakers, airlines and tourism businesses.

On Tuesday Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced her state's strict border restrictions would lift on July 10, but anyone who has been in Victoria two weeks prior will be forced into mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.

The measures are a setback for many Victorians who had planned winter escapes to Queensland's warmer climes, while airlines have cancelled flights due to decreased demand.

"I'd been looking forward to it. I thought I'd leave it to July because I assumed the borders would be opened by then," said Ms Folley, founder of coworking business @Workspaces.

She was able to get a credit for her flight but is holding off booking until there is more certainty.

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"I'm going to have to wait and see how it goes, I'd hate to book for September or August and find you can't go up. I'm very very disappointed."

Concreter and business student Nic Farrell had a trip to Noosa planned for July with friends that's now cancelled. Mr Farrell's disappointment is compounded by the fact the trip was in lieu of a Europe holiday for earlier this year that also had to be called off due to coronavirus restrictions.

"It's pretty grim," Mr Farrell said. "The boys are very flat, we don't know what to do here.

"Victoria is all good and well until you're locked here [during winter]. It's all fun and games until you're forced to stay here."

The exclusion of most Victorians entering Queensland will have a substantial impact on the sunshine state's economic recovery, according to Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Michael Johnson.

"Anywhere from 25 to 30 per cent of their domestic tourism can be from Victoria," he said. "It does mean it will slow the recovery of tourism into Queensland."

"It makes it extremely difficult for accommodation providers, for airlines."

For Victorians with bookings who are now unable to enter Queensland, Mr Johnson said refunds or credits should be possible.

"It's a government directive from public health - certainly they shouldn't be out of pocket. They should get a credit to be used in future, or a refund."

On top of Victorians having to cancel holiday plans, Mr Johnson said the state's inbound tourism will suffer due to NSW government advice for people to avoid travel to Victoria.

"Not only can [Victorians] not travel but also there will be no incoming travel so you get a real double whammy."

The border restrictions have also forced airlines to cancel flights with Qantas scrapping about 50 return flights from Melbourne to Brisbane and Hamilton Island during July. Jetstar and Virgin Australia will also cancel flights between Melbourne and Queensland.

The border restrictions are not a blanket measure to prevent Victorians entering the state. Rather anyone, including Queenslanders, who have been in Victoria 14 days prior to entering Queensland must undergo hotel quarantine at their own expense. The Queensland health minister said this would cost each person about $200 a day.

See also: EU puts Australians on tourism 'safe travel' list, bans Americans

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