The Trans-Tasman travel bubble is vitally important. But we have some way to go to safeguard the livelihoods of businesses in Brisbane and across Queensland who rely on tourism.
Quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand will reunite friends and families and, for hotels, restaurants and tour operators across Brisbane, in particular, who have borne the brunt of lockdowns and the decline in business as well as leisure travel, the arrivals through Brisbane Airport will be welcomed with open arms.
For the Airport itself, this return of international travel will bring renewed hope for our retailers and so many staff who have been stood down for so long. Our International Terminal, once a hive of activity, has been a shadow of its former self for more than a year. To say that we are looking forward to facilitating incoming and outgoing ‘green’ flights between Brisbane and the Land of the Long White Cloud come 19 April is a monumental understatement.
Trans-Tasman routes traditionally account for one-quarter of international passengers through Brisbane Airport. In pre-COVID times, that equated to more than 100 flights between Brisbane and New Zealand each week and around 1.5 million passengers a year.
But make no mistake: while this ‘bubble’ is important, it is not enough on its own. And it is fragile.
The initial pent-up demand is expected to result in 39 services in the first week of the bubble – that’s still only a third of pre-COVID capacity between BNE and NZ. And the reality is that if Australia’s domestic borders do not stay open for a sustained period of time, consumer confidence and demand for travel may well fall off.
The flow-on effect of this, for hotels, restaurants, tour operators across the city and the state would be heart and business breaking.
To protect the ‘bubble’ and to make real the possibility of opening up to more international markets, we need to get Australia’s vaccination roll-out back on track and firing on all cylinders. We implore all levels of Government to work together, and with us in industry, to make this happen. Lives, and livelihoods, depend on it.