Queensland has launched a massive $1million ad blitz to entice Australians across its borders to bail out the state’s devastated tourism industry.
The Sunshine state opened its borders to New South Wales on Monday after banning residents on December 21 in response to a fresh Covid-19 cluster in Sydney, causing chaos for travellers days before Christmas.
The closure was the third separate time Queensland has barred NSW residents from entering since the pandemic began.
Now, the state’s government is calling on Sydneysiders to visit through a new targeted campaign in a bid to boost its embattled tourism sector.
Tourism & Events Queensland has launched a campaign (pictured) to entice interstate travellers to inject funds into its devastated tourism industry
Tourism & Events Queensland released the latest segment of its ‘Good to Go’ campaign in Sydney on Monday across TV, radio, social media, and outdoor advertising, to coincide with relaxed interstate travel restrictions.
The video showcases adventurous tourist activities, such as scuba diving or paddle boarding, while print material features the state’s picturesque beachside destinations.
The promotion was also rolled out in Victoria last month as testing and isolation requirements were relaxed for residents visiting Queensland.
But the advertisement for interstate travellers was initially earmarked for a 1 December release, but was pulled back after Queensland closed it’s borders to NSW just weeks later.
A Tourism & Events Queensland spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia the campaign cost more than $1million, but could not provide an exact figure.
The marketing blitz comes days after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pleaded with the federal government for a multi-million dollar JobKeeper extension to keep the state’s $28million tourism industry afloat, which employs 234,000 Queenslanders.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured above) has called on the federal government to extend JobKeeper beyond March as her state struggles economically
The ‘Good To Go’ campaign (pictured) was rolled out on TV, radio, social media and in outdoor advertising in Sydney on Monday
The remarkable plea for tax-payer funded help prompted NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to come out swinging, accusing the Queensland government of asking taxpayers to bail the state out for the economic hit from its own border closures.
‘Queensland, closed one day, asking someone else to pick up the tab the next,’ Mr Perrottet said.
‘People in NSW have not only been banned from entering Queensland, but now Queensland wants the taxpayers of NSW to pay for that decision.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected Ms Palaszczuk’s request to extend the benefit beyond March 28, and urged states to support their economies when they impose lockdowns and border controls – instead of asking for handouts.
‘States can make decisions about what they intend to do in areas of their responsibility but they are then also responsible for dealing with and mitigating the decisions that they make,’ he told reporters on Monday.
‘It is not a blank cheque’.
The ongoing closures saw thousands of businesses crippled financially, with holidays cancelled last minute after borders were slammed shut not one but three times.
Closing Queensland’s borders to Greater Sydney during the Christmas period alone is estimated to have cost the state’s economy $200million.
Thousands of interstate-bound travellers’ festive season plans were thrown into turmoil, with Jetstar and Qantas cancelling 1500 flights and 200,000 passenger bookings.
Queensland’s border closures days before Christmas caused chaos for thousands of Australians (pictured, the border at Coolangatta on December 21, 2020) have frustrated many and have been labelled ‘draconian’
Jetstar and Qantas cancelled 1500 flights and 200,000 passenger bookings. Pictured: Incoming passengers are screened by police at Brisbane Airport on December 20 last year
Many holiday-hopefuls were also forced to forfeit last-minute cancellation fees, with some service providers, such as Airbnb, not providing refunds for Covid-19 related travel restrictions.
But despite her tough border stance, and repeatedly warning she ‘won’t hesitate’ to slam borders shut if other states’ Covid numbers rise, Ms Palaszcuzuk is optimistic interstate travellers will flock to Queensland to spend their hard-earned dollars.
On Sunday, she said the Queensland tourism industry is expecting ‘strong bookings’ for Easter and the school holidays as Greater Sydney’s Covid Hotspot status is revoked from 1 February after 14 days without a local case.
‘With Queensland open to Australians again the focus is on getting people to explore and take a holiday in the Sunshine State,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
‘Opening the border to Greater Sydney could result in a $350m tourism windfall alone.’
The ‘Good To Go’ campaign (print material pictured) was initially released in November, but was pulled back after Queensland shut its borders less than a month later
‘That’s what 370,000 Sydneysiders spent in 2019, visiting Queensland for Easter.’
Ms Palaszczuk added that regions in her state largely reliant on tourism were doing it ‘tough’ and urged other Australians to vacation in Queensland..
‘I want everyone to get out now and explore Queensland. If your family hasn’t been to the Great Barrier Reef, this year is the perfect opportunity. There’s just so much to do here,’ the premier said.
‘With the help of Queenslanders and interstate visitors, we can help Queensland tourism to not only rebuild but to rebuild stronger.’
But some New South Wales residents were weary of planning trips north after being burnt by border closures in the past.
Responding to news of Queensland’s bid for tourism dollars, one woman said her son had chosen to holiday in New South Wales, after two interstate trips had to be cancelled.
‘My son had a holiday booked for Palm Cove. After the borders closing twice to Greater Sydney and him having to keep changing the flights, he has given up on going to QLD at all,’ she wrote on Facebook.
Another woman said she would love to travel to Queensland but the financial risk was too great.
‘My fear is that Ms Palaszczuk will slam her borders closed. All the resorts won’t refund, only credit, which is wrong on every level,’ she said online.
The Premier said the Queensland tourism industry is expecting ‘strong bookings’ for Easter and the school holidays as Greater Sydney is permitted back in her state. Pictured: The Good to Go’ Campaign
The Palaszczuk government has often been accused of playing politics with the pandemic, closing borders after just handfuls of cases popped up.
There have also been numerous incidents when innocent Australians were banned from the state or forced into quarantine despite desperately trying to see sick family.
Queensland’s ‘Good To Go’ campaign was first launched in June last year to encourage Queenslanders to explore their own state, with later stages of the promotion designed to focus on interstate holidaymakers as restrictions eased.
The interstate promotion was flagged for a December release, but Queensland closed the border to 35 local government areas in Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While all other states are now free to travel to the Sunshine State, Western Australians have been banned after the state was declared a Covid hotspot from 6pm on Sunday.
Travellers from the Perth, Peel and South West regions of the state required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival after a WA hotel quarantine worker tested positive to the virus.
Queensland Health also announced that anyone who had travelled from those WA areas since January 26 should be tested and isolate until they receive their result.
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