Eased restrictions a glimmer of light

Today marks the beginning of an incredibly important period for the Sunshine Coast.

Following encouraging reports that we are flattening the COVID-19 curve, the State Government has made the vital first step towards easing Queensland’s stay at home restrictions.

From today, we are able to go for a drive, ride a motorbike, jet ski or boat for pleasure, have a picnic, visit a national park and shop for non-essential items within a 50km radius of home, while adhering to social distancing restrictions.

The move reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, we must not become complacent. Each step forward we make must be made with caution while prioritising all social distancing and public health measures, as any step back could result in a longer recovery period.

My hope is that over the next two weeks as we trial these eased restrictions we will see an increase in people being able to support the Sunshine Coast businesses and tourism operators that have over the past few months have been doing it so tough.

For example, this could provide an opportunity for tourism operators such as boat and jet ski hire to move towards reopening.

One of our members, who specialises in gourmet hampers, is also poised to restart their business as families are once again are able to picnic together.

It is incredibly fitting that the initial easing of restrictions includes the partial re-opening of some national parks. Pristine nature is at the heart of what makes the Sunshine Coast so special, and it will be wonderful to get back out and enjoy what we love about where we live, while observing social distancing restrictions.

While there is no word yet from federal or state governments on when travel restrictions may ease further, it is a reminder that as an industry we must be prepared to react immediately to the market when they do.

Our intrastate drive market, including day trippers, will play a crucial role in helping the tourism industry recover. In the year ending December 2019, we had 7.9 million day trippers to the Sunshine Coast who injected $703.6 million into the local economy.

Together we have been doing a remarkable job in flattening the curve in our region, and by maintaining these precautions I hope this is the step forward we need to start making a positive difference for our tourism industry.