Grey nomads who have effectively been locked out of Tasmania by pandemic restrictions are expected to descend on the Apple Isle in huge numbers this summer.
It’s been less than a week since the State Government announced its plan to reopen borders on December 15, but the response has already been overwhelming.
In the first three days after the news broke, the Spirit of Tasmania ferry received a whopping $3 million worth of bookings.
Chief executive at Visit Northern Tasmania, Chris Griffins, told the ABC that ‘forward bookings have gone ballistic’.
“We knew Tassie was going to be in high demand as soon as the borders reopened,” he said. “It’s a good shot in the arm in terms of confidence coming into the summer after what has been a pretty miserable winter.”
Caravan parks and camping sites which are always extremely popular during the warmer months are expected to be busier than ever as borders across the country open in earnest.
And other tourism-related businesses are also gearing up for a bumper season.
The General Manager at Josef Chromy Wines, Shaine Devenny, told the ABC that setting a date for borders to reopen was the ‘final step’ in giving people the confidence to return to their normal travel plans.
“It’s so exciting to see the recent interest in tourism since the roadmap announcement,” she said. “Once travellers get confident, gain more confidence around the border conditions, we’re going to see a flurry of activity similar to what we would see in a normal year and our key season.”
However, with international tourists and backpackers still barred from entry to Australia, one drawback to the good news story is the lack of labour to staff the service industries.
And the Managing Director of NRMA Expeditions, which runs Freycinet Lodge and Cradle Mountain hotel, Andrew Paynter, said there were still other questions that needed to be answered.
“We need to know how will we react as a business, when, not if, we do have a positive case within one of our businesses,” he told the ABC.
And Mr Paynter said he also thought the need to get a negative test before entering the state could be ‘problematic’ and have the ‘potential to soften demand’.
“Certainly at peak periods the ability to procure a test and to pay for it, especially for large families wanting to travel to Tasmania, could be quite problematic,” he said.