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Crisis, what crisis? Coast unveils tourism battle plan to 'burst from gates'

Business

The Gold Coast is positioning to lead Queensland’s battle to secure an even greater share of the domestic tourism market as soon as COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

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The only thing missing from the assault plan is a date.

As the National Cabinet analyses a range of proposals on how restrictions could be relaxed ahead of a much-anticipated declaration on Friday, Gold Coast leaders are hunkering down to wargame strategy and tactics for the city’s tourism and economic return.

It has been a week in which the language and sentiment around Queensland tourism has shifted firmly from crisis to opportunity.

Despite the state’s tourist capital suffering devastating losses of about $1.8 billion to its $5.9 billion tourism industry, the Gold Coast has been scheming and “sharpening its claws” to fend off rival destinations and aggressively capture greater numbers of domestic and New Zealand travellers.

State Tourism Minister Kate Jones said Queensland tourism operators were ready to “burst out of the gates” to nab the lion’s share of travellers once restrictions were lifted.

Jones said the Government was working with the $13 billion Queensland tourism industry to fast-track the COVID-19 comeback and ensure accommodation, restaurants, casinos, pubs and clubs, as well as events and experiences including theme parks, and the aviation sector, could maximise any advantage in the recovery.

Queensland Airports CEO Chris Mills told InQueensland the pent-up demand following coronavirus travel restrictions meant the domestic travel sector could explode.

“There are a lot of positive signals there for the Gold Coast and I think we should be ready for the rush and not be surprised by it,” Mills said.

Air travel from Sydney and Melbourne to the Gold Coast were already Australia’s fourth- and sixth-busiest routes respectively, and could become even busier once travel resumed, he said.

“With its natural assets and in the absence of people being able to travel overseas, I think the market is actually bigger for capturing domestic travel to the Gold Coast,” Mills said.

“It think there is a really big opportunity there. I think the Gold Coast and Queensland are really well placed to see a rebound in activity and we are very positive about that.”

However, the sector was desperate for a timeline, he said.

“I think there is a lot of positive sentiment out there. I know it’s really hard at the moment, but if we did have a confirmed date then we can mobilise around that. At the moment there’s good sentiment, but we need clarity.”

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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