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Tourism 'reborn' on Coasts as holiday surge brings out the house full signs


The Queensland school holidays have brought a desperately needed surge of tourists on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

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The influx comes just days before Queensland formally reopens its borders at midday on Friday – the first time the state has allowed interstate visitors, except Victorians, since closing in mid-March to stymie the spread of COVID-19.

Queensland recorded no new cases of the disease overnight, but hundreds of people trying to enter the state have been turned around in recent days.

More than 200 vehicles trying to carry more than 700 people over the border via road checkpoints have been refused entry.

Holiday-makers have been put on notice that border declaration passes to enter the state must be renewed every seven days.

On the Gold Coast, Sea World Resort has been at 90 percent occupancy and Turtle Beach Resort at Mermaid Beach is just under full occupancy.

Hinterland businesses such as Tall Trees Motel Mountain Retreat at Tamborine Mountain are reporting the strongest holiday bookings in recent history.

“This is the busiest school holidays we have ever had, surpassing any Christmas holiday bookings. It is just unbelievable,” Tall Trees owner Darren Jack said.

“It has been absolutely, overwhelmingly fantastic.”

Bikash Randhawa, Chief Operating Officer of Village Roadshow Theme Parks, said bookings for Sea World Resort would remain steady at 80-to-90 percent for the next few weeks, but after that was “unknown”.

The company’s three open theme parks, Sea World, Paradise Country and Australian Outback Spectacular, have been averaging between 3000-5000 visitors a day.

Diners are returning to restaurants, but there has been a shift in behaviour, according to The Star’s Jessica Mellor.

Ms Mellor said people were eating out less frequently but opting for higher-end offerings.

“We are seeing our premium products at The Star performing incredibly well and people are looking to do something special on their night out,” she said.

Camping and caravanning rebirth

Sunshine Coast businesses have reported a similar surge in tourism, particularly in camping and caravanning.

Jason Filippini manages holiday parks at Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Coolum.

“A lot of people are coming in for three or four days with lots of new equipment, a lot of people who are new to the industry, having a little bit of a toe in the water to see if it’s for them,” Filippini said

“It’s been amazing, it’s almost like a rebirth of the industry.”

Like the Gold Coast accommodation houses, Filippini said the majority of guests were from the ‘drive market’ areas of Toowoomba, Brisbane and surrounds.

While intrastate demand is high, Filippini said the closure of the Victorian border was already having an impact.

“We had a full booking chart of a lot of Victorians so when the announcement became firm, all the phone calls have come in with cancellations,” he said.

“When the border reopens on Friday, we’ve still got some interest from the other states so we will see those interstate travellers coming through but it just won’t be as strong as it would normally be.

“It will keep us ticking along.”

– ABC / Jennifer Huxley and Tara Cassidy

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