“Plunged the industry into chaos”: tourist operators furious at border changes
The recently announced border entry changes, which take effect on Dec. 20, will devastate the territory’s already struggling tourism businesses, major industry bodies have warned, calling on the Gunner government to come up with “sensible solutions.”
The changes will see fully vaccinated travelers arriving in NT undergo two PCR tests in their first six days, but will also have to stay in “high vaccination” areas, such as Darwin and Alice Springs, regardless of where they come from.
This means that many of the territory’s most desirable destinations outside of urban centers will be off-limits to tourists, including Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park, Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles, National Park by West MacDonnell and Uluru-Kata Tjuta. National Park, until tourists stayed in high vaccination areas for 14 days.
Tourism Central Australia CEO Danial Rochford has warned that the new measures will have a devastating impact on the tourism sector in Central Australia and in particular on travel to and from Uluru.
“It will also have an impact on anyone living outside urban areas in terms of Christmas vacation intentions,” he said in a letter to tour operators.
âWe are not faced with any visit to the tourist region of Lassiter without an orientation and without an end date and this only increases the uncertainty.
“It should be understood that important work has been done in the community of Mutitjulu (near Uluru) on vaccination rates and I hope this effort is understood as it reduces the risk.”
Tourism Top End chief executive Glen Hingley said his groups were also devastated by the new mandates and would seek clarification from the government.
âIt threw the industry into chaos. This has the potential to destroy any consumer confidence in the people who come here, âMr. Hingley said.
âIndeed, the regional operators have lost all their customers in the foreseeable future from December 20 and the only customers on which they can count are the Territorials who have not been outside the territory traveling regionally.
âWe are looking for judicious solutions to create corridors of movement between regions or regional constituencies, otherwise, without the territorials moving, it is difficult to see how businesses outside the highly vaccinated centers remain open. “
Hospitality NT CEO Alex Bruce also said he hoped the Gunner government would consider a more reasonable approach in this regard.
“It was a step forward for the Territorials living in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs, but a big leap back and a kick in the guts for the vaccinated Territorials who work hard and live outside these three centers,” Mr Bruce told Mix104.9 on Friday.
“We think some of these things need to be revisited and you know we’re all learning through this so that it’s okay to say okay, we actually need to think a bit more. [into this]. “
Territorials who have not traveled to other places will be exempt from the new measures.
Opposition CLP said the changes would mean a “canceled Christmas” for territorials living in regional and remote areas.
“It’s a kick in the guts for every territorial who took the health advice and did the right thing,” said Bill Yan, CLP spokesperson for health.
âThe tourism sector is already on its knees and this latest change has closed the doors of the territory.
âMeanwhile, children in the territory who return from boarding school and live outside major centers will be forced to spend Christmas away from their families – because the Chief Minister has forbidden them to return home. “
The measures imposed by the government for visitors to areas outside of high vaccination areas as of December 20 state:
- All arrivals should stay in high vaccination areas in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs for the first 14 days.
- âYou can travel between approved areas with high vaccination. You should not stop in any other town or community, unless it is for fuel, food, or rest.
- âYou have to wear a mask in public places – For example, if you drive from South Australia to Darwin you can take your COVID-19 test and stay in Alice Springs because it is a high vaccination zone approved. “
- âYou can stop for fuel, food and rest areas along the Stuart Highway as you transit between approved high vaccination areas. “
- âYou can use the accommodation, restaurant and bar facilities, but must wear a mask in public unless you eat or drink. “
- All vaccinated arrivals in the Territory will need proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours before arrival, within 72 hours after arrival and again on the sixth day in the Territory. There are three trials.
- For unvaccinated travelers: Unvaccinated returning territorials and those who have been authorized to enter the Northern Territory will be required to undertake a mandatory 14-day supervised quarantine at their own expense.
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