Queenslanders can forget sunning themselves in Bali, Thailand or the Greek Islands.
The premier is instead urging Brisbane travellers to take time out in the Whitsundays after unlocking COVID-19 restrictions on how far people can venture from their homes.
“It’s really important that we continue to support our industries across Queensland,” Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“If you want to see natural beauty, if you want to see paradise, come to the Whitsundays.”
She said the government was in talks with airlines to bring on more flights and cut the price of tickets, with tourism businesses in the region seeing up to a 400 per cent spike in bookings in the past week.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited Townsville on Tuesday to unveil the completed Stage one of the Haughton Pipeline. Picture: Matt TaylorSource:News Corp Australia
From June 22, Alliance Airlines will make four flights a week from Brisbane to the Whitsundays for $99 under a deal with the state government.
“We’re encouraging everyone from the southeast corner to come up and support the Whitsundays during a tough time,” Tourism Minister Kate Jones said today.
“One in three people in this region work in the tourism industry; it is worth almost a billion dollars to this region annually, and they have suffered significant blows with COVID-19.”
Government officials have been promoting intrastate tourism for days, after months of economic hardship for the industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the state’s borders will remain shut.
There were no new cases of coronavirus recorded overnight, with just a handful of people still to recover from the illness.
The Queensland government has faced increasing pressure to open state borders given the low coronavirus case rate and high number of jobs dependant on tourism.
On Tuesday, the Queensland Premier was accused of having “no idea” about why she’s keeping the borders closed, with a retail industry body accusing the state leader of “destroying business” and being “irrational”.
The comments come as another High Court challenge is being flagged against the constitutional right of the Queensland government to keep the state’s borders closed.
School students, workers and freight drivers can enter the state without an issue, but Queensland is closed to anyone else because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are arguing that the Queensland government did not have the constitutional right to shut the border,” Mahoneys litigation partner Mitchell Downes said in a statement on the firm’s website.
The new flight to the Whitsundays will start from June 22. Picture: Tourism WhitsundaysSource:News Regional Media
Retail Services Group owner Sue Jeffreys said the Queensland Government didn’t understand what the ongoing border closure was doing to business.
“The impact Annastacia Palaszczuk’s having on businesses, I don’t think she has any idea what she’s doing,” she told The Courier Mail.
On Monday, The Australian reported the High Court challenge had been lodged, with six plaintiffs including a Brisbane travel agency and a Cairns charter operator, plus interstate individuals and a company – including the Retail Services Group.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to buckle to pressure to reverse her decision to keep the borders closed during the coronavirus crisis.
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said the decision to keep the borders closed was the appropriate action.
“The Premier wants to get people back to work as quickly as possible but doing so without appropriate attention paid to health concerns including community transmission in southern states could cripple industry for years,” he said.
– with AAP
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