A frustrating start to September school holidays is once again being experienced by Gold Coast tourism operators who rely on interstate visitors, with the airport recording fewer than 1,000 passengers through the gates each day.
The numbers represent about 5 per cent of the levels seen in September 2019.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said travel restrictions had now stretched on for more than 18 months and many tourism businesses were struggling to keep their doors open.
“Gold Coast Airport and the Gold Coast tourism industry are particularly reliant on the Melbourne, Sydney and international markets,” he said.
“Flights continue to places like Cairns, Adelaide and Hobart but it is clear people are hesitant to travel.”
The school holiday slump comes after just 2 per cent of pre-COVID-19 capacity was recorded through Gold Coast Airport in August, or a total of 12,719 passengers compared to 528,697 in 2019. The numbers were some of the lowest seen through the airport in recent history.
Mr Mills said growing vaccination rates and leaders sticking to the nationally agreed plan to re-open the borders would be critical if confidence in travel was going to rebuild.
“Aviation and tourism businesses will see little improvement until state borders re-open and stay open,” he said.
“I hope we get that clarity next week about reopening in accordance with a national plan – we can’t wait until Christmas to find out. Until we get that commitment, the aviation industry can’t add flights and stand people up with certainty, and interstate travellers can’t book with confidence.”