BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said he and the team were looking forward to welcoming visitors from New South Wales after the Queensland border reopens today.
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said he and the team were looking forward to welcoming visitors from New South Wales after the Queensland border reopens today.

High hopes for today’s long-awaited border reopening

BUSINESS owners across the region are waiting in anticipation for today's border reopening in the hope that the strong numbers enjoyed over the past few weeks will continue to be held up by New South Wales travellers.

The Queensland state border will reopen at noon today for the first time in more than three months.

The border will remain closed to Victorians as cases of coronavirus in the state continue to rise.

The long-awaited Queensland border reopening has been slated to bring some much-needed numbers to the area with business owners and leaders hoping it will add to the momentum built up during the Queensland school holidays.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said the Queensland school holidays had provided a "fantastic" boost in numbers at the park.

"We've been at 100 per cent (capacity) most of the time, which is sensational when come three weeks ago we were looking at somewhere around 70 (per cent)," he said.

"We've found with New South Wales opening we've got something around a 13 per cent increase in inquiries and bookings so that's certainly had an impact, and that's on top of an already busy Queensland time."

However, Mr McKinnon said he was "nervous" about the coming weeks with school holidays set to end on Monday for Queenslanders and the following week for New South Wales students.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said the region would rely on New South Wales travellers to keep numbers up in the park.
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said the region would rely on New South Wales travellers to keep numbers up in the park.

The Victorian market has typically been the biggest source of visitation during the winter period for the BIG4 resort.

Mr McKinnon said with Victorians still locked out of Queensland, the park would now be reliant on New South Wales and intrastate travellers to help maintain numbers.

"We're certainly suffering because Victoria are still going through their issues massively, and South Australians as well, that's also a major issue because South Australians have to go through Victoria to get here," he said.

"At the moment (capacity is) somewhere in that 50 per cent but going back to weeks ago it would have been around 20 to 30 per cent.

"It's got to go to September school holidays, so we're hoping (New South Wales visitors) keep carrying us through."

Owner of Fish D'Vine Kevin Collins said he had also seen a busy few in Airlie Beach, which had given the town a taste of what could come.

Mr Collins was "cautiously optimistic" about the border reopening, saying it would take support from New South Wales and Queensland to keep numbers up.

Fish D'vine owner Kevin Collins said the town was “cautiously optimistic” about the border reopening. Picture: Deborah Friend
Fish D'vine owner Kevin Collins said the town was “cautiously optimistic” about the border reopening. Picture: Deborah Friend

Fish D'Vine reopened in its new location on Airlie Esplanade less than two weeks ago.

However, Mr Collins said the reopening conbined with eased restrictions had provided a welcome start to business.

"We had a better week this year with restricted numbers than in the same week last year," he said.

"Part of that is because we're brand new and people want to try it, but there's absolutely no doubt town had a very busy weekend.

"I think the mood in town generally is cautiously optimistic.

"We're a bit worried that if Victoria goes bad and takes New South Wales with it that will cause havoc, but we're cautiously optimistic.

"The flights are coming in close to full (and) the regional drive market is incredibly strong. Whether it has any underlying length to it, whether it's just a flash in the pan or people are a bit stir crazy and want to come to Airlie Beach at the weekend I don't know, but bookings are strong."

A snapshot of sales statistics from Tourism Whitsundays supported Mr Collins' observations from town and showed that across four campaigns there had been more than 1500 bookings.

The Mates Rates campaign brought in $148,196 while the campaign targeted at frontline workers had seen more than $90,000 in sales.

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Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said these campaigns were just the beginning of things to come.

"Since the easing of restrictions in June, Tourism Whitsundays has launched a number of campaigns aimed at driving visitation from all over Queensland," she said.

"So far, we've generated over $300,000 in bookings based on figures received to date from 30 of the 70 operators involved from our Escape Winter, Mates Rates and Frontline Workers campaigns. We are looking to roll out further campaigns as borders reopen.

"The Whitsundays has some of the most spectacular scenery on the Queensland coast. With incredible deals on offer through our Mates Rates or Escape Winter campaigns, travellers are obviously feeling compelled to book and take advantage of a holiday in paradise this winter."

Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce president Allan Milostic said it was a shame the border reopening would not include Victoria but that it was understandable given the current circumstances.

Mr Milostic hoped the opening today would help businesses continue to get back on their feet as Queensland students go back to school.

"What it means for businesses in Airlie is that the surge with school holidays will be partially maintained," he said.



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