Border restrictions rattle tourism industry nerves

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community transmission in queensland
Queensland is seeing community transmission again. PIC: Twitter

For many tourism operators and caravan parks, the new Covid outbreak in Brisbane couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Just as the JobKeeper wage subsidy comes to an end, they are now faced with another wave of uncertainty as travellers assess the potential implications of crossing state borders.

The Brisbane cluster has already led to other state and territory jurisdictions imposing varying levels of restrictions on people coming from Brisbane in particular, or from Queensland in general.

In WA’s East Kimberley region, tourism operators are under no illusions about their vulnerability to more or prolonged border restrictions.

Lake Argyle Resort owner, Charlie Sharpe, told the ABC that JobKeeper had enabled him to keep his business going through 2020 despite plunging revenue. He said he and others were nervous about the prospect of Western Australia closing its border again during the dry season.

“Eighty per cent of our business comes out of the south-east corner and if you lock out a couple of those states we’ll just pack up and go home,” he said. “And they’ll be pulling out JobKeeper again and we won’t be able to pay taxes because we won’t have any money.”

He has joined a chorus of tourism operators who want WA to ban travellers from specific areas, when there is an outbreak, rather than entire states.

Maria Bolten Magnay, who owns a holiday park on the edge of Lake Kununurra, said her bookings dropped 80% last year.

She had up to 12 staff on JobKeeper at the height of the pandemic, describing the wage subsidy as a ‘lifesaver’.

“If the borders close then we’ll be in real strife because we’ve still had a massive hit to our balance sheet,” Ms Bolten Magnay told the ABC. “Things are still on a knife’s edge … we would start looking at some real lean exit plans for the business.”

A spokesperson for Premier Mark McGowan said in a statement to the ABC that WA’s hard border arrangements had always been based on health advice.

“This approach has protected the health of Western Australians and enabled the state’s economic recovery to lead the nation,” he said. “Our management of Covid-19 has worked and we will continue to rely on health advice with respect to borders.”

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4 Responses to Border restrictions rattle tourism industry nerves

  1. Mr Mc Gowan its only by input of the federal Gov that you are doing so well but up north a lot of business is going broke so please stop bragging as you have nothing to brag about

    • Sarbi, Me thinks you are “out of sync” with the huge majority of West Aussies. The WA Premier has lots to brag about. And those business’s up north will be just fine. Try getting a booking up there for this winter. Go WA.

    • He can brag hat he’s kept his state safe from Covid. Health matters most.!

  2. This so called economic cliff is completely false
    There are so many jobs out there more than ever before
    There are business that have been advertising positions for 8 months some can not get staff and are shutting down
    Some business are screaming for labour
    Don’t tell me end of jobseeker is the end of the world

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