As border reopenings appear imminent, Douglas businesses are preparing, so Newsport spoke to a few to see how they feel December (and beyond) might look like for them and the Shire.
Queensland has had its borders bolted shut for most of 2020, with Sydney and Victoria still locked out, and while this has had the positive effect of keeping Queensland virtually COVID-free, it has come at great economic cost.
But this looks set to change, and maybe as soon as December 1, bringing with it a potential influx of interstate travellers and a return to something more like normal for the Shire.
In part three of our businesses and border reopening series we talked the owners of Wavelength Reef Cruises.
With tourism being one of the Shire’s main economic drivers, the travel and tourism sector has been deeply affected by COVID-19,
And local tourism operators particularly have taken one of the biggest hits.
Jenny Edmondson, co-owner with husband John, of Wavelength Reef Cruises, has felt the impact hard, estimating that the year has yielded about 20% of the regular tourist intake.
And unfortunately for Wavelength, the push for locals to holiday locally, leading to some influx of local Queenslanders, has not overly changed things for Wavelength’s numbers because, as Jenny points out, “Queensland visitors can be quite ambivalent about the reef, having often already done a trip to experience it.”
So, it’s been a tough road for the business since the borders closed, and even more so given Wavelength accommodates a lot of Sydney-siders on its tours, while also having a research program it operates with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
Even with the prospect of borders opening, while Jenny hopes interstaters will be “desperate for some adventure and flock here in droves,” she isn’t so sure due to the way southern media makes so much of wet weather and tropical lows, which “could nip the enthusiasm in the bud quickly.”
Wavelength is already going above and beyond what is needed to ensure its operations are COVID-safe, including enforcing social distancing, providing sanitiser, ensuring longer soak times for gear, cleaning any other items that customers or staff regularly come into contact with and changing the menu from a buffet to individually wrapped food.
Despite the grim times the business has had to navigate, Jenny is trying to stay positive, seeing a potential December border opening as the chance to bring a little hope to everyone who has been affected by the closures, even if the lack of an exact date is making it hard to forward plan.
She does, however, hold some fears for 2021.
“Besides the one-wheel wonder at Xmas the region usually experiences,” she notes, “it’s a long time till April when we are likely to see proper visitation again.”