On Monday, for the first time in almost two years, the Gold Coast will welcome back international tourists and travellers to our stunning part of the world. I want to thank Gold Coasters for their patience and resilience during what has been an extremely challenging time.
Tourism is the lifeblood of the Gold Coast and this vital step forward will give our local businesses and tour operators the confidence that it needs.
When the pandemic hit, the Morrison Government acted swiftly and decisively – becoming one of the first nations to close our international borders. While we were criticised by some at the time, this action undoubtedly saved thousands of lives.
Of course, here on the Gold Coast – a city that relies heavily on tourism – we took a huge hit in the rapid downturn of international visitors.
The impact that COVID-19 has had on the Gold Coast spreads far and wide – from travel agents and hospitality venues, to our airport and attractions, event companies, accommodation providers, universities and small businesses.
Since becoming Home Affairs Minister last year, I’ve been focused on reopening Australia’s international border as soon as it was safe to do so.
We started this process in November last year, and since then we’ve seen almost 580,000 arrivals come to Australia to reunite with loved ones, work or study.
We’re now ready to roll out the welcome mat for all fully vaccinated visa holders, including tourists, business travellers and other visitors. The time is right – with Queensland more than 90 per cent fully vaccinated.
Reopening our borders is an important part to getting back to normal. The carefully managed reopening has meant we’ve been able to protect the health of our communities, while continuing to secure jobs and our way of life.
Before COVID-19, the Gold Coast tourism industry employed one in 10 locals – attracting almost four million people to our city each year and injecting $6 billion into our local economy.
We’re known worldwide for our easy going and resilient spirit. After what has been a very tough two years for everybody – when the border opens, I know you’ll welcome visitors with open arms.
I can’t wait to see international travellers touching down at the Gold Coast Airport again, filling our hotel rooms, restaurants and entertainment precincts. Making memories at our amazing Gold Coast attractions and beaches – and telling their friends back home how great it is to holiday here.