Rainbow leaders: half of business lost if border stays shut
RAINBOW Beach tourism leaders are fuming over what they say is a lack of clarity about the State's post-pandemic recovery which they claim will put the region "on the back foot".
Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism treasurer Nigel Worthington said the constantly changing dates, and ongoing border closure was hurting instead of helping.
MORE GYMPIE NEWS
Mr Worthington said the shutdown had stripped almost half of the coast's business, 30 per cent of which came from south of the state border.
"If the border remains closed for the school holidays then Queensland will be on the back foot," he said.
"If people can only travel within Australia and the Queensland border is still closed then people will make the decision to go elsewhere than here.
"People need to plan holidays; if they can't book here, they'll go elsewhere."
The surprise loosening of internal restrictions on Monday, instead of June 12, left businesses flat-footed, Mr Worthington said.
"When the announcement was made on Sunday afternoon, we were not ready to open and had no staff."
Then there were contradictions in what people could do, he said.
"Fraser Island is open but you cannot get a permit," he said.
A Department of Environment and Science said all information about what national parks were open was available on its website.
Rainbow Beach businessman Heatley Gilmore did not understand the decision to keep the borders shut.
"There is no doubt the medical industry is now prepared and there is no reason as to why they are not open," Mr Gilmore said.
"It is impacting us, there has been no business here for about nine weeks and even moving forward it is still quiet.
"There is one road in to town and one road out.
"There is not much industry here, it is all driven by tourism.
"Some businesses are gone and people are unemployed."
The State Government is expected to revisit the border issue on July 1.
"You can't swing the gates open and just get back to normal"
GYMPIE'S state and federal MPs Tony Perrett and Llew O'Brien have called on the State Government to clear up its pandemic recovery plan.
Mr O'Brien said "closed borders close businesses".
They have urged the government to clear up the rules to ensure the region has every chance to bounce back.
"Queensland and Wide Bay's communities rely on domestic tourism and if the Queensland Government keeps our borders closed for one minute longer than necessary it will wear the consequences of that decision," Mr O'Brien, the Member for Wide Bay, said.
"So far Australians are leading the world in stopping the spread of infection which means we haven't had anywhere near the number of coronavirus cases that were first projected.''
Mr O'Brien said this was an "excellent achievement but it had come at a huge economic cost with people losing their businesses, jobs and livelihoods because of COVID-19".
Mr Perrett, the Member for Gympie, said the government should start thinking "as a business".
"It must develop a business brain, use business sense, and think strategically as a business would.
"We are only three months into this and the impact of the contraction of the local, state, Australian and world economies will last for years.
"This is an enormous issue and the local figures support what I have been hearing.
"Unless we can get businesses operating profitably again we will never trade our way out of this.
"You can't just swing the gates open and everything will return to pre-COVID-19 days.
"Local businesses in Rainbow Beach tell me they are experiencing more than a 90 per cent decline in revenue, with one reporting a 97 per cent decline."