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Bedlam at the border as tourists descend on state from Coast to Cairns

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Authorities were expecting a stampede and haven’t been disappointed. Long queues have formed at multiple border crossings into Queensland as the state officially reopens to interstate visitors after 15 weeks of self-imposed quarantine.

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From midday, Queensland is welcoming travellers from all states and territories, except Victoria and those who have visited the Garden State in the past fortnight.

As of this morning, 314,000 people had applied for 7-day entry passes.

Long delays were expected, with snaking lines of traffic queued up at the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads.

Visitors arriving at Cairns Airport were treated with a reception usually reserved for royalty.

The first interstate flight arrival was greeted with a colourful display featuring the Minjil Indigenous Dancers, animal mascots and a water salute.

Cairns Airport CEO Norris Carter said the official reopening of borders marked the reactivation of interstate tourism and was a sign the region is poised for recovery.

“This week we will see 20,000 passengers travel through the terminal, and that’s a 10-fold increase in passenger numbers since early June,” he said.

“Every traveller is important, not only to the airlines that fly them here, but to all the businesses across the airport and the wider tourism community.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland said COVID-19 had cost the region $1 billion in visitor expenditure so far and estimated that figure would more than double by December.

Holidaymakers are also gathering just south of the border in New South Wales, eager to travel into outback Queensland.

Bourke and Lightning Ridge in western New South Wales have been overwhelmed by campers during recent few weeks.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s Daniel Gschwind said the visitors will inject some much-needed revenue.

However, travellers from Victoria, or people who have visited Victoria in the past 14 days, will be barred from entering the state except for returning Queensland residents, or unless a rare exemption has been granted.

Queensland Police are boarding all flights from the Garden State to process arrivals.

Those not granted entry will be required to book a return flight at their own cost, and will remain under escort.

Queensland residents will be taken by bus and required to quarantine for 14 days at a government-nominated facility at their own expense.

Police are warning people not to be alarmed by vehicles with Victorian number plates arriving in Queensland towns.

Earlier this week, officers conducted compliance checks at caravan parks near Bundaberg and determined all Victorian-registered vehicles were there lawfully.

Sergeant Geoff Fay said rumours on social media about Victorians “sneaking” into Queensland would cause unnecessary hysteria and waste police resources.

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