It's the alternative to Queensland quarantine that's generating millions of dollars for northern NSW tourist towns.

Thousands of NSW travellers are choosing to spend up to a fortnight in Byron Bay, or on the Tweed Coast, to avoid having to spend 14 days in Queensland quarantine hotels.

Since the latest change to border rules at the start of the month, Sydneysiders have been able to enter Queensland if they first spent two weeks in a zone outside a declared COVID hot spot.

Faced with choice of two weeks inside a hotel room or basking on the beaches of northern NSW, travellers are voting with their feet.

Crowds relax by the beach at Byron Bay. Picture: Steve Holland (NCA NewsWire)
Crowds relax by the beach at Byron Bay. Picture: Steve Holland (NCA NewsWire)

Tourism operators in Byron and on the Tweed have reported a surge in bookings with travellers either using the time as a clever detour to Queensland quarantine, or shunning the state entirely by switching their holiday to northern NSW.

Brisbane pop duo, The Veronicas, are currently midway through a two week stint in the beach town of Byron Bay, before they can re-enter Queensland to be with their sick mother.

Meanwhile other celebs took the COVID beach holiday to the extreme, like American actor Zac Efron, who relocated to Byron Bay in June at the peak of the virus.

Other Hollywood stars were given exemptions to quarantine in their Byron Bay holiday homes during tougher restrictions, including Nicole Kidman, who was in town to shoot a new TV series.

The Veronicas, sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso, are spending two weeks in Byron Bay to avoid Queensland’s tough quarantine rules. Picture: Justin Lloyd
The Veronicas, sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso, are spending two weeks in Byron Bay to avoid Queensland’s tough quarantine rules. Picture: Justin Lloyd

A Tweed Tourism Company spokeswoman said bookings had been strong, despite the widespread impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"With the cancellation of international holidays and some ongoing travel restrictions, we've seen an increase in Sydneysiders travelling to the Tweed's coastal and hinterland areas which has resulted in a strong trading period for many businesses in the region," she said.

Accor Pacific CEO Simon McGrath said the company's hotels close to the Queensland border were enjoying excellent occupancy rates, in some cases even stronger than pre-COVID levels.

"People are so keen to reconnect with much-loved family members and friends from Queensland, that we have seen a significant increase in bookings year-on-year in some of our properties along the border, such as Peppers Salt Resort and Spa at Kingscliff," he said.

 

While still decimated by travel bans, Queensland's tourism industry has fared better than any other state during the year of COVID-19, but it still represents a 24 per cent drop valued at $8 billion and counting.

The missing millions being spent in northern NSW instead of across the border in Queensland have never been so sorely needed.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said there was a clear trend showing people choosing to avoid hotel quarantine by instead holidaying in northern NSW.

"We are certainly giving up some market share at the moment because of the situation with the borders and our entry restrictions and hopefully we can get back in the game as soon as possible," he said.

Byron Bay’s streets are busy with tourists opting to bypass Queensland hotel quarantine for two weeks. Picture: Steve Holland (NCA NewsWire)
Byron Bay’s streets are busy with tourists opting to bypass Queensland hotel quarantine for two weeks. Picture: Steve Holland (NCA NewsWire)

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Veronicas beat Qld restrictions with clever Byron break


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