Grim prediction has Qld tourism sector scrambling
QUEENSLAND tourism operators are drawing up battle plans to lure domestic tourists in a bid to fill the void left by overseas visitors amid fears Australia's international borders are likely to stay closed for up to a year.
Tourism experts believe that targeting the six million Australians who travel overseas - spending a whopping $50 billion - can turn around the ailing Queensland sector, which would face a catastrophic $6 billion hit from a protracted border lockdown.
It comes as new research reveals that while most Aussies have shelved holiday plans, may are looking to take a trip inside the country over the next six to 12 months.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy told a Senate inquiry yesterday there was "no clear road map" out of the international lockdown, saying he believed the true number of coronavirus cases worldwide was closer to 20 million than the 4.3 million so far reported.
"I cannot see border measures (being lifted), they will be one of the last things to go," he said.
"There is no clear road map out of this.
"I have no vision at the moment on the current international scene where international border measures of some very strong vigour won't be necessary."
The revelation is a devastating blow for the Queensland tourism industry which last year welcomed almost three million overseas visitors who splashed $6.1 billion.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the industry was now drawing up plans to nab domestic tourists in a bid to fill the void left by overseas visitors.
"The news was not unexpected, but it's still very tough to hear," he said.
"The tourism industry had been bracing itself for a long period of isolation from our international markets.
"It is simply a reality that we have to contend with because it's not just in the control of Australia - it's also in the hands of all the other countries who provide us with our international visitors."
Tourism Australia research shows 60 per cent of Aussies aren't even thinking of a holiday at present.
But 24 per cent are, and 14 per cent are actively researching and planning their next holiday.
According to the survey for Tourism Australia's Consumer Demand Project, the majority of Australians are not intending to travel overseas for at least the next 12 months.
However 39 per cent of Australians plan to travel domestically in the next six to 12 months.
"You have to realise that two-thirds of (Queensland) tourism is domestic and for many destinations it's all domestic," Mr Gschwind said.
"We're certainly not giving up but the more high-profile destinations like the Gold Coast and far north Queensland will absolutely suffer from the loss of international markets."
Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista said 92 per cent of the Coast's 14 million tourists were Australians and domestic tourism promotion would ramp up in a bid to compensate for the international shortfall.
"We've planned for international borders to not reopen until at least early 2021 as part of our business planning," she said.
"We're relying on the domestic market and potentially New Zealand with the (potential) trans-Tasman (travel) bubble."
Ms Battista said public health had to be the top priority.
"The health concerns have to come first - any secondary flare-up is going to be detrimental to the Gold Coast in the long term and we have to support the Chief Medical Officer's advice," she said.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said a widely available vaccine, considered by experts to be still a year off, was going to be vital if foreign travel bans were to be lifted.
"A vaccine would be welcome for all sorts of reasons, including an ability to open the borders, and more importantly to bring the pandemic under control," he said.
Originally published as Grim prediction has Qld tourism sector scrambling