Bor­der blocks will cost states bil­lions

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - ROSIE LEWIS

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.

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