Tourism leaders welcome freedom to hit the road
FROM midday today Queenslanders will be allowed to take unlimited trips by road, rail and air throughout the state and Mackay tourism leaders are counting their blessings.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the easing of intrastate travel restrictions had been brought forward due to the public's "remarkable" work in abiding by restrictions.
BREAKING: Start planning your holiday! We’re opening Queensland for Queenslanders from noon tomorrow.— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 31, 2020
Queenslanders will be able to undertake unlimited travel, including overnight stays throughout the entire state, in a major easing of COVID-19 restrictions.#covid19 #qldjobs pic.twitter.com/tQknt4ttxW
Mackay Tourism chief executive officer Tas Webber said the decision was great news.
"Intrastate travel has always been the leading source market for visitation to Mackay," Mr Webber said.
"With Queenslanders now permitted to travel intrastate, Mackay Tourism and our Tourism Whitsundays partners will be launching several exciting marketing campaigns to inspire our fellow Queenslanders to take this opportunity to experience all that the beautiful Mackay and Whitsunday regions have to offer."
Mackay Region Mayor Greg Williamson said the eased restrictions were one step closer to getting back to normal.
"The tourism industry has done it really tough," Cr Williamson said.
"All those people who rely on tourists for their living, for the revenue for their business - they've been hit the hardest out of this pandemic."
"Anything we can do now to make sure domestic tourism gets back on its feet really fast … I think that will be a great outcome for our community and all those people who earn a living from the tourist dollar."
Mackay Resort Motel owner Melissa Speer said she was optimistic it would help them kickstart sooner.
"We'd probably be looking at 70-80 per cent occupancy normally (at this time of year)," Ms Speer said.
"At the moment, we're probably at the 30 per cent mark."
"Although we don't expect things to change overnight, the unlimited travel means we're able to recover more quickly."
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles also announced pubs restaurants and cafes will be able to cater for up to 20 patrons for food and beverage service, beginning today.
"And from Friday this week, with a COVID safe industry plan, venues with more space will be able to go further and allow up to 20 people in each separate area, seated for meals or drinks," Mr Miles said.
"For example, some surf clubs, pubs and RSLs may have four or five defined separate indoor and outdoor areas - they can have 20 people in each of these areas if the areas are big enough."
While the gates to wider travel have been thrown open, the Premier remained firm on keeping the border closed to interstate travellers.