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Bookings soar as NSW, Victorian visitors to bring in $20 million per day

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Queensland’s economy will receive a boosts of $20m per day thanks to the reopening of the state’s borders, a leading tourism industry body says.

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Flight Centre said there had been a surge in bookings from Victorians wanting to head north. The most popular searches were for the Melbourne to Brisbane route as well as Melbourne to the Gold Coast and even Melbourne to Cairns. It followed a similar response from Sydney residents yesterday. The Queensland Tourism Industry Council said it would add $20 million a day to the state’s economy.

Flight Centre shares were up 8 per cent in response.

The Prime Minister said he was thrilled Queensland was preparing to welcome back visitors from Victoria and NSW on December 1 and urged the state government, and others around the country, to have faith in their health systems.

“With Christmas coming up, that’s especially important,” Morrison told 2GB radio.

“It’s important now that we open safely in Queensland and we remain safely open. I think business needs that assurance.

“We had that hiccup in South Australia last week, a bit of a false alarm, and it’s important for businesses that there is that certainty.”

All states except Western Australia are committed to reopening their borders by Christmas.

Victoria has performed a stunning turnaround, from being Australia’s worst-hit state with rising case numbers and daily deaths, to today recording a 25th day without any cases, and 28 days without community transmission. That met the threshold for Queensland travel restrictions to be lifted.

“I have just heard and that is wonderful news so can I congratulate (Victorian Premier) Daniel Andrews, their Chief Health Officer and all Victorians because this is just fantastic news,” Palaszczuk told ABC News.

“So it means on the first of December, Victorians can also come to Queensland and of course Queenslanders can go to Victoria as well.

“We’re absolutely prepared for the influx of people for the Christmas holidays. In fact, just yesterday we saw a 200 per cent increase in (bookings for) some of our tourism operators across Queensland.”

The decision came after NSW yesterday met the Queensland criteria for 28 days without community transmission of COVID-19, allowing restrictions on Greater Sydney to be lifted and the entire state to be reopened for travel.

Queensland now has more active cases – 15 as of Tuesday, all returned travellers detected in hotel quarantine – than Victoria and NSW combined.

Having long withstood calls to change the criteria to lift the border restrictions sooner, Palaszczuk said people could now make Christmas and holiday plans with certainty. There was also less risk of undetected cases spreading north – Queensland had been keen to monitor Victoria’s path out of lockdown – and the tourism sector would benefit.

“And, as you know, Queensland – beautiful one day, perfect the next,” Palaszczuk said.

Palaszczuk phoned her NSW counterpart and political adversary, Gladys Berejiklian, to relay the news on Tuesday and said her response was “positive”. Expecting today’s numbers out of Victoria, she also foreshadowed change with Andrews.

Flight Centre CEO Graham “Skroo” Turner told ABC Radio Brisbane the business received more domestic online bookings yesterday than on any other day in their history.

“It happens immediately, people will travel immediately, they’re desperate to see friends, relatives,” Turner said.

“It just shows you how quickly people will come back.”

Nearly 100 Flight Centre branches were forced to close during the pandemic, but Turner said this should start to improve.

“We’ve got a lot of people who are only working two or three days a week, they’ll be going to full-time as soon as the business is there,” he said.

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