Shock figures show Qld tourism weathering COVID storm
QUEENSLAND has withstood the coronavirus tourism wipe-out better than any other state according to new research to be released on Friday.
There have been fears the virus - and Queensland's controversial border blockades - would wipe up to $15 billion from the state's tourism coffers, but the new findings will be a welcome ray of light for the embattled industry.
The data, from Tourism Research Australia, showed Queensland tourism expenditure was down 24 per cent in August compared to the same time last year, but other states dropped up to 96 per cent.
Queenslanders also answered the call to arms from our tourism industry, with the number of Queensland holiday-makers taking a break in their own state soaring compared to the same time last year.
According to TRA data, there was a 31 per cent increase in Queenslanders taking a trip in their own state, increasing their spending by 62 per cent for the month.
The figures also take into account the 'Super Long Weekend' created after the cancellation of the Ekka and other Queensland shows in August as well as the extended relocation of most AFL clubs to the Sunshine State.
Tourism and Events Queensland's "Good to Go" campaign encouraging people to take a well-earned holiday had also just launched.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has come under frequent fire over the state's hard line stance on borders, said the measures had allowed Queensland to return to a new normal ahead of other states.
"This is only possible because of our strong health response in Queensland," she said.
"While other states are still struggling to contain the virus, we're rebuilding our economy.
"Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our tourism industry.
"But today's data shows we're heading in the right direction."
Unsurprisingly, COVID-ravaged Melbourne lost virtually all tourism revenue, while in NSW tourism expenditure was down 51 per cent.
South Australia saw a 49 per cent drop, with Tasmania (45 per cent) and WA (42) also down significantly.
Ms Palaszczuk said it was encouraging that Queenslanders had embraced the concept of exploring their own backyard in the face of international travel bans.
"I asked Queenslanders to get out and explore their state. This data shows that they've answered the call," she said.
"Not only are we seeing more Queenslanders out and about, they're spending more - pumping millions of dollars into local businesses and supporting local jobs.
"Contrary to the national trend, regional Queensland had an increase of three per cent in overnight visitors in August, with total expenditure suffering significantly less than all other states and territories.
"While our tourism industry's recovery will continue to be challenging, particularly with uncertainty around international borders, these figures show the enthusiasm Queenslanders have to explore their own state and provided much-needed support to the tourism industry."
While parts of Queensland's tourism industry - particularly operators in the north, have been left hanging by a thread under the weight of border blockades and other prohibitive restrictions, some regions, notably the Granite Belt and Scenic Rim, have been reporting record tourism numbers due to the huge volume of holiday-makers unable to head overseas.
TEQ CEO Leanne Coddington said there were some clear positives out of what had been a dark time for many operators in the industry.
"Queenslanders have heeded our 'Good to Go' campaign and some regions are seeing more visitors than ever before as people explore new places," she said.
"Queensland is an internationally renowned tourism destination and we hope to convert more Queenslanders to choose holidays at home in the longer term by showcasing the broad depth of experiences on offer in the state.
"Everything from authentic Indigenous experiences, to getting up close with wildlife, connecting with nature and wide-open spaces, to experiencing Queensland's 'beautiful one day, perfect the next' lifestyle, or reconnecting with friends and family at local events - there are incredible experiences on offer just a short drive or flight away."
Tatiana Reyes, 24 from Chevron Island, made the most of a perfect spring day on the Gold Coast by cooling off at Currumbin Alley.
She said Queensland's beaches were a great drawcard for holidaymakers.
Originally published as Shock figures show Qld tourism weathering COVID storm