Border blocks will cost states billions
Continued border lockdowns by the smaller states will deprive accommodation and tourism businesses of about eight million visitors and cost about $10bn in earnings if premiers refuse to reopen before October.
Federal government data shows there were 7.9 million interstate visitors to states with border constraints — Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory — between April and September last year. Analysis by The Australian reveals those visitors spent $9.7bn over that period.
The stark picture emerged as state leaders continued to trade barbs, and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer joined federal peers in saying there was no medical reason to close borders.
The hundreds of thousands of West Australians previously headed for Bali and Sydney could this year see the state’s besieged tourism industry benefit from the its ongoing border closure.
The number of West Australians who holidayed interstate or overseas last year exceeded the number who visited from the eastern states, suggesting that local holidaymakers are well-placed to help make up the slack from a prolonged hard border.
West Australians make an estimated two million trips interstate and overseas for holidays each year, according to figures from Tourism Research Australia, a number that eclipsed the record 1.86m interstate visits for holidays and business last year.
The WA government has been urging its citizens to take the opportunity to see more of their home state, and converting those international and interstate holidays into local ones could help offset the loss of visitors from the east.
The implications for tourism have been at the centre of an ongoing war of words between various state premiers and the federal government.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook on Thursday said the ongoing diagnoses of coronavirus in NSW and Victoria in particular supported the case for a continued closure of the border.