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NSW Christmas will be joyful: tourism boss

NSW tourism
Bookings for holidays in NSW are at a premium with many holiday towns on the east coast already fully booked. Photo: AAP
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NSW is poised to take advantage of lifted travel restrictions as the tourism and hospitality sectors seek to make up for losses endured during months of COVID-19 lockdown and Christmas looks “joyful and celebratory” once again.

Tourism & Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond says the industry has been losing close to $4 billion a month with virtually no international visitors for almost two years.

On Monday NSW began welcoming Australians home without quarantine and fully-vaccinated people are now free to travel anywhere in the state, triggering the revival of the hard-hit regional tourism and hospitality sectors.

Bookings for summer holidays in NSW are at a premium with many holiday towns on the east coast already fully booked.

“What makes this Christmas very different from last Christmas is the fact that there’s joy in the air,” Ms Osmond told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

“I think there’s a different kind of spirit this Christmas.  It’s going to be a very celebratory one,” she said.

However, states like Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory that have yet to open up to international tourists will miss out.

“They are not going to be getting the sort of Christmas summer holiday boost they might have expected because their opening is going to so late,” Ms Osmond said.

“If we have any chance of getting international tourists back, you are hoping to come to lovely Sydney, of course, but you’re hoping to go to the Great Barrier Reef or Uluru or Ningaloo or the Barossa.

“We need certainty around borders for people to be planning those long-distant trips.”

Qantas flight QF1 left Sydney on Monday night bound for London via Darwin carrying outbound vaccinated Australians.

Flights also arrived at Sydney International Airport from the US, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Hong Kong, Fiji and Dubai on the first day of quarantine-free travel for vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

Singaporean tourists will be allowed back to Australia as part of a travel bubble from November 21.

Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said the travel arrangements with Singapore are “the first step in getting our tourism businesses back to providing amazing experiences for international visitors”.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said regional travel’s effect on the state’s confidence is “really going to drive our economy”.

He flagged that health authorities were confident the state could aspire to get 95 per cent of adults fully vaccinated.

Restrictions will begin lifting for unvaccinated people next month.

On Monday, NSW recorded its lowest daily total of locally-acquired COVID-19 cases since July: 135 along with four deaths.

Supermarket chain Woolworths has begun sending out pre-ordered at-home rapid antigen testing kits ahead of them going on sale on Wednesday.