Bookings for Queensland’s Christmas holidays are on the rise with the state’s reopening roadmap revealed, but Brisbane airport fears the plan is too strict and could cause international carriers to focus on other parts of Australia.

Queensland will allow fully vaccinated people to enter Queensland without quarantine from December 17 – or when the state reaches 80% of the full vaccination for people over 16 – provided they have had a COVID test negative in the previous 72 hours.

Cairns Reef tour operator Perry Jones said he was delighted to hear about the plans to reopen.

“I was tap dancing in the hallway,” he said.

“We wanted a roadmap, we needed a roadmap, and we got the roadmap… so that’s all we were asking for.”

He said the phones started ringing yesterday and reservations are already coming in.

“In the last 24 hours we’ve started to see a lot of it, which we haven’t seen for most of the year.”

Cairns Reef tour operator Perry Jones said phones have been ringing since the roadmap was announced.(ABC News: Elaine Ford)

Tropical North Queensland Tourism CEO Mark Olsen said the increase in bookings was the result of renewed confidence for both the industry and travelers.

“What we heard yesterday gave our travelers confidence to book their Christmas vacations and beyond,” he said.

After yesterday’s announcement, Virgin Australia (VA) said flight bookings rose 134%.

“We can already see that travelers are excited about the prospects of flying again, which has been evidenced by the significant increase in website traffic and bookings,” a VA spokesperson said.

Flight Center CEO Graham Turner told ABC Radio Far North that around 1,000 bookings have been made in the past 24 hours, the majority of them traveling between Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

He said airlines would have “reasonable capacity” to serve people before Christmas amid increased demand.

“It’s high season… at the best of times so it’s not always easy to catch a flight before Christmas,” he said.

Two blank Australian planes on the tarmac
Most flight bookings are for people traveling from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Brisbane airport “concerned”

But the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) said it was “deeply concerned” about the reopening strategy and feared international airlines would significantly increase flights to Queensland if it became more practical to focus. on other Australian states.

“As part of this plan, the 90% vaccination rate milestone is the only opportunity for non-Australian citizens to enter Queensland directly from overseas,” BAC said in a statement.

“We are concerned that this threshold will be significantly higher than the National Cabinet roadmap and roadmaps from other states… Queensland will still impose a home or hotel quarantine, even after reaching the threshold of 80. % of the population vaccinated. “

The national plan says that as the country crosses the 80% double dose mark, measures could be relaxed to allow “uncapped arrivals for all people vaccinated without quarantine.”

Brisbane International Airport sign and facade on April 30, 2021.
Brisbane Airport Corporation is “deeply concerned” about the threshold set for foreign visitors.(ABC News: Michael Rennie)

LAC said Queensland will compete with all other states for international visitors.

“If a fully vaccinated traveler from Melbourne can come to Queensland and not have to go into quarantine once we hit the milestone of 80% of the vaccinated population, a fully vaccinated person from Los Angeles should also be able to come. in Queensland and not be required to do so. quarantine, ”LAC said.

He said the loss of flights to Queensland would be an “absolute tragedy” and would take years and “a significant investment” to recover.

“It just means that Queensland will not be competitive from an aviation point of view and will reduce the demand for tours.”

Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles said the state government was taking a “sensitive” and “cautious” approach to the reopening.

“I understand that there are certain segments of the economy that would like us to go faster, that will criticize this plan, but at the end of the day we have made decisions based on what is in the best interests of health. and the safety of Queenslanders and our economy, ”he said.

BAC said it needed clarification on how a hotspot is defined once communities are doubled at 80%.

“This clarity is essential if we are to understand how and when vaccinated interstate travelers can return to Queensland without having to quarantine themselves,” the IBC statement said.

“In addition, pre-arrival testing and the associated additional costs for travelers will significantly dampen demand, as has been demonstrated in overseas markets which have already opened up.”

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