$1b a month windfall as locals spend big
HOLIDAY-DEPRIVED Queenslanders could splash up to $1 billion a month on the Sunshine State's struggling tourism industry, with operators already reporting a rush of reservations and rooms booked out until the end of the year.
Hotels and resorts reported phones ringing off-the-hook, while Qantas was closely monitoring demand with a view to adding more intrastate flights after Queensland's tough coronavirus restrictions were yesterday relaxed early to allow holiday-makers to travel freely throughout the state.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said Queensland travellers "desperately looking to get out of their homes and explore" their own back yards could go on to pump up to $1 billion a month into the economy.
"We are extremely excited, because the accelerated opening of travel within Queensland … was definitely an optimism boost to the industry," Mr Gschwind said.
"It will help rebuild the tourism industry faster … and we've had countless phone calls and messages in the last 24 hours."
He said while it could take time for the industry to "crank up again", bookings were already flowing in.
He said Queensland and interstate visitors typically pumped $1.5 billion into the state's tourism sector each month, but he was expecting a boost from would-be international travellers to explore the state instead.
Idyllic getaway 17 Mile Cottage near Toowoomba, is already booked out until the end of the year, with owners Elissa and Andrew Churchward taking reservations from as far away as Rockhampton.
"We've just been taking booking after booking and inquiries - it's just crazy," Ms Churchward said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who yesterday flew to Cairns in the Government jet, said backing the tourism industry, which employs 230,000 across the state, was an integral part of Queensland's economic recovery.
"I'm encouraging Queenslanders to get out of their house, to get into their car, and to book accommodation somewhere in Queensland that they haven't been before," she said.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said now was the time for Queenslanders to tick off everything they had always wanted to see in their state and support tourism operators by spend money right across our state.
A Qantas spokeswoman said the company would be "closely monitoring bookings on intra-Queensland routes" and will "add capacity where we see demand".
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce previously said cheaper airfares would be used to lure travellers back to air travel.
Eco-resort Lady Elliot Island, located on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, was also looking to entice tourists back through chartered flights from Brisbane, Gold Coast Hervey Bay and Bundaberg.
"It's been really fantastic, we've had significant increases in phone calls and inquiries," Lady Elliot Island Resort executive assistant Amy Gash said.
"With the easing of those restrictions, it is fantastic for operators like ourselves and all other hospitality operators within Queensland, because it does make it a lot easier to manage and control our bookings."
The island will reopen on June 13, and Ms Gash said the resort made the best of a bad situation by completing disruptive renovations during the shutdown since March.
Lady Elliot Island Resort typically employs between 35 and 40 people but had only 20 "caretaker" staff on the island during the lockdown.
Most of the 70 staff at O'Reilly's Resort, in the Scenic Rim, were also expected to get back to work from mid-June after the 93-year-old retreat was booked out over the upcoming school holidays.
Originally published as $1b a month windfall as locals spend big