Gold Coast Airport passenger numbers dropped more than 99 per cent in May, with almost 470,000 fewer visitors and locals coming through the airport last month – as the border closure stayed in place and travel restrictions continued.
Preliminary numbers showed that about 2,000 people were welcomed by the Gold Coast Airport team last month compared to 471,409 in May last year. Similar reductions were recorded in April and are expected in June.
Gold Coast Airport has been hit harder than most by government travel restrictions.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said there would be no real recovery for the airport and for the Gold Coast’s tourism industry until the state border was re-opened and the valuable NSW and Victorian visitor markets returned.
“Whilst opening up the Gold Coast to intrastate tourism is a positive step, in 2019 day-trip visitors contributed just 15 per cent of the $5.9 billion in economic benefit that tourism delivers for the Gold Coast,” he said.
“We have no intrastate flights in and out of Gold Coast Airport and things won’t change for the airport, or in any significant way for the tourism sector we support, until flights restart to Melbourne and increase to Sydney.”
Mr Mills said until a date was set for the border re-opening, the pain would continue for the tourism sector.
“It will take weeks not days for the industry to be ready to welcome visitors back to Queensland and they need time to plan as well. Travel is not a last-minute decision for most people,” he said.
“The sooner we know when the border is scheduled to re-open, the more likely the tourism industry will be able to benefit from the change in restrictions.”
Images of the Gold Coast were beamed to more than 1 million social media followers after last Friday’s Gold Coast Airport runway concert. The gig, which was a partnership with radio station Hot Tomato and leading band Sheppard, reminded potential visitors that the destination was ready and waiting when travel restrictions lifted.
Mr Mills said it was the perfect time to relaunch Queensland to the rest of the country now that winter weather had arrived in the southern states.
“We know people want to come to Queensland and the Gold Coast in particular to holiday, so we need to give them certainty to allow them to book their airfares and accommodation during this window,” he said.
Mr Mills said it was encouraging to see discussions continue about also re-opening trans-Tasman travel.
“The Gold Coast is on top of the list of places to visit for Kiwis and we look forward to welcoming them back,” he said.