The Gold Coast’s tourism and hospitality industries are breathing a sigh of relief after Greater Brisbane’s lockdown was lifted — but many small businesses are hoping the damage has not already been done.
- The sudden three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane has been lifted
- Brisbane is a critical market for Gold Coast tourism, especially during the Easter period
- The State Opposition has called for a new financial assistance framework for businesses
Only one new case of community transmission — already linked to an existing cluster — was recorded out of 34,711 tests on Wednesday.
Many businesses were hit with booking cancellations within hours of the lockdown announcement on Monday, so many have pinned their hopes on a big Easter rebound.
Bumbles cafe owner Kate Madison said at its worst, her usual trade dropped by 90 per cent this week.
“To hear it’s not going to get worse is just wonderful,” she said.
Looking at big pay packet
While some customers had cancelled their bookings, Ms Madison said “at least we’ll get the Brisbane people and the local people”.
“We were looking at going back to our bare minimum of five or six staff for the weekend, had the lockdown continued.”
“But they’ll all get a big range of hours because we’ll need them — hopefully.”
But Scott Imlach, who owns half a dozen bars and restaurants, said the restrictions that remained in place , including seated dining, mask wearing and no indoor dancing, were “painful”.
“It’s a little bit ‘how’s your father’ when all the rugby league games are still going on over the country, but we’ll deal with it,” he said.
Mr Imlach said it had been “one of the worst weeks” he’d had, but Easter was usually one of the busiest weekends of the year.
“[It’s} all public holiday rates — so that makes it a hard one anyway — and it’s going to put extra pressure on us having those restrictions in place,” he said.
Brisbane ‘critical’ for Easter success
Queensland Airports Limited chief executive Chris Mills said that despite the recent uncertainty, the number of inbound flights looked stable, bolstered by half-price airfares under a federal government subsidy.
“Today we’re expecting 52 flights, tomorrow 56 flights, Easter Monday 59,” he said.
“Prior to COVID, we were averaging about 18,000 passengers a day through the airport, this weekend we’re expecting around 15,000 passengers a day.
“That gets us to around 80 per cent of where we used to be.”
While acknowledging “nervousness and anxiousness” within the tourism sector, Destination Gold Coast chief executive Patricia O’Callaghan said businesses had high hopes for the Easter period.
“This is a $5.9 billion industry that took a $3 billion hit — this weekend is always a critical milestone.
“At our peak we had 14.2 million visitors coming to the Gold Coast but … through COVID, we lost 5.5 million of those visitors.”
Call for more business assistance
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the State Government would look into any potential assistance for businesses.
“It has been very tough,” she said.
But Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said a new framework was needed to assist businesses impacted by potential lockdowns in the future.
“When governments make decisions for the greater good, if it impacts a business, it’s up to the government to also help that business,” he said.
“That might be in the form of cash-flow relief, tax-flow relief, incentives to get people to come — whatever it is.”
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