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Queenslanders have the ability to revive the local economy

Published:03 June 2020

Intrastate travel could be a kick-start for the Queensland economy according to Economist Professor John Rolfe.

The State Governments decision to open 'Queensland for Queenslanders' is a step in the right direction to revive the economy according to CQUniversity Economist Professor John Rolfe.

As part of the Road to Recovery plan, Queensland has allowed intrastate travel which could be the much-needed kick-start for the regions ahead of the peak holiday months.

"Lockdown created major impacts on the tourism industry with the economies of holiday destinations such as Cairns as the Whitsundays badly affected."

In an analysis provided through the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence estimated that more than 16 per cent of the Cairns workforce would have been directly affected by the shutdown with flow-on impacts causing greater pain.  

"While the JobKeeper program has softened the impact for now, the tourism sector needs opening up to breathe life into the economy. With the announcement of unlimited travel and stays for residents, Queensland is an advantageous position to inject some cash flow into the local economy from local visitors," he said.

"The Winter months are prime travel seasons due to the mild weather in the sunshine state. Opening travel within the State is a first step to reviving local businesses, with future relaxation of interstate travel likely to generate much larger impacts."

Tourism Tropical North reported that internal travel will inject an extra $50M into the economy.

"Australians spent approximately $44.6B on international tourism in the 12 months to November 2019. If even 50 per cent of that expenditure was substituted into domestic tourism in the next twelve months, it would help to compensate for the loss of inbound tourism to Australia.
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"Relaxing travel restrictions will support the re-opening of countless businesses including pubs, restaurants, gyms and select movie theatres, providing avenues for visitors to inject funds back into these businesses who would usually rely on international visitors. As cash flow improves, this will rebuild the services sector of the economy."

"While trading with limited patrons is not sustainable in the long term it will allow businesses to rebuild their customer base before JobKeeper payments cease in September," Prof Rolfe said.

Earlier this year reports stated that COVID-19 would result in the deepest economic decline since the 1930s great depression however comprehensive plans put in place by the government have worked to keep the economy afloat thus far.

"As business have only been closed for a few months at this point it will be easier for them to go back to normal operating. However, the ongoing controls and changing circumstances mean not all businesses will be able to recover."

While the recent announcement is a major move back to normal life, Prof Rolfe explained that this is only the first step, and a much larger impact will be seen when interstate travel recommences.

"Maintaining the border closures is damaging to the Queensland economy. It would be much better to open the borders and manage the remaining COVID-19 risks through social distancing, and contact tracing than by such draconian conditions."