Queenslanders will be able to take up bargain basement flights to travel to tourism hotspots in their own state – but Australians from interstate will miss out.
From June 22, regional airline Alliance Airlines will fly four times a week from Brisbane to the Whitsundays for just $99 a seat, under a deal struck with the state government.
“We’re encouraging everyone from the south-east corner [of Queensland] to come up and support the Whitsundays during a tough time,” Tourism Minister Kate Jones said on Wednesday.
“One in three people in this region work in the tourism industry; it is worth almost a billion dollars to this region annually, and they have suffered significant blows with COVID-19.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged Queenslanders to explore their own state after unlocking COVID-19 restrictions on how far people can venture from their homes.
“It’s really important that we continue to support our industries across Queensland,” she said.
“If you want to see natural beauty, if you want to see paradise, come to the Whitsundays.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the state government was talking with airlines about how to bring on more flights and cut the price of tickets. Tourism businesses in the region have reported an up to 400 per cent spike in bookings in the past week.
Queensland officials have been promoting instrastate tourism for days, after months of economic hardship for the industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the state’s borders will remain shut to tourists from other Australian states for at least several more weeks.
“Let me make it very clear, the border will remain closed for the month of June,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Monday.
Queensland had no new cases of coronavirus to report on Wednesday. The state has just a handful of people yet to recover from the illness.
Alliance Airlines is a Qantas subsidiary based in Brisbane. It mostly operates fly-in, fly-out charter flights, along with some regular flights.