Travel restrictions

COVID-19 travel restrictions relaxed, but not everyone wants Queensland vacations

As Queensland braces for a Christmas stampede of interstate travelers, some locals want to escape the sun, sand and sea and spread their wings beyond the state border.

Hours after the roadmap for reopening the state was unveiled, Babinda woman Julie Schep was trying to book her plane ticket to Germany for a White Christmas.

“I was very excited as I had been waiting for this moment for a few years now,” she said.

“I immediately started looking for airline tickets online.”

Ms Schep was hoping to travel to Frankfurt to visit her family for Christmas.

“My family hasn’t been together for over three years, so we’re trying to get to Germany quickly at the end of December,” she said.

“Right now, if I had the choice between Christmas under a palm tree or under the snow, I would pick snow.

“I love to sit in front of a fire, go to Christmas markets and drink hot Glühwein.”

One obstacle that Ms Schep had encountered since the Prime Minister’s announcement was the price of tickets to Europe.

“I hope the prices will come down now that Europeans can start to come back to Australia.”

Brisbane traveler Madolline Gourley has unfinished business in the city that never sleeps.

Madolline Gourley from Brisbane plans to visit New York at the end of this year.(Provided: Madolline Gourley)

“I want to spend the winter in New York, I really hate the heat and just want to get away from it all in a nice, cold place,” she said.

“There was so much more I wanted to see and do.”

Ms Gourley said there was still a lot of uncertainty over whether the border would reopen, but she was nervously optimistic.

“Since COVID, I have traveled a lot in Australia to places I would not normally have been to like Darwin, Newcastle and Sydney,” she said.

“But now I want to go back abroad, rather than travel to Australia.”

Townsville travel agent Debbie Rains said she has seen a significant increase in international travel bookings since the state government’s announcement of the border.

She said the December 17 opening date gave people certainty as they worked out their plans.

“We have done a lot of skiing in Canada, a few trips around the world, a lot of cruises have been booked and paid for,” said Ms. Rains.

Peak travel bookings

Since Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk’s announcement on Monday, travel bookings to Queensland have increased.

“Most of the bookings are for Christmas, then there are people booking for the January school vacation,” said Graham Turner, CEO of Flight Center.

“We also get a lot of travel inquiries in February, March and April. “

Flight Center CEO Graham 'Skroo' Turner standing in front of a Flight Center store with his arms crossed
Flight Center CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner said there had been a spike in inquiries about travel in and out of Queensland.(ABC News: Mark Slade)

But Mr Turner said there had also been an increase in inquiries and bookings for overseas travel.

“In the last few weeks there have been a lot of inquiries about travel to UK and US and then last weekend we started getting inquiries for Fiji,” a- he declared.

“Once people knew they could come back without quarantine, we saw a lot of people in Queensland wanting to go skiing in places like Whistler or the American ski slopes.

“Due to the short notice it can be difficult to get a reservation at these resorts.”

As of December 2019, there were 2.24 million international departures to Australia.

That figure fell to 500,000 international departures in December 2020, before falling to an all-time low of 300,000 in September this year.

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