NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared she will reopen the border between NSW and Victoria from 23 November, with the accommodation and hospitality industry relishing in the news.
The opening will come two weeks after Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, removes the ‘ring of steel’ around Melbourne, allowing the state’s residents free access to travel around the state. As of Wednesday 4 November, the state has recorded a fifth consecutive day of no community transmission of COVID-19.
“We have worked closely with the Victorian Government throughout the border closure and will continue to monitor the situation as restrictions are eased,” Premier Berejiklian said.
“Our policy in NSW is to keep moving forward and operating in a COVID-Safe manner – the reopening of the NSW/Victorian border is another step in the right direction.”
The accommodation industry was overwhelming in its praise at the move, saying the freedom to move between the two states will be a huge boost for regional hotels, jobs and the overall recovery of the sector.
Tourism Accommodation Australia National CEO, Michael Johnson, said the association’s members on both sides of the Murray River welcomed the announcement.
“The move gives Sydney access once again to its largest tourism market and also brings back certainty for both leisure and corporate travel to re-commence,” Johnson said.
“Domestic travel is obviously going to be critical for our industry’s recovery and today’s announcement is another step forward – I know Sydney-siders and other NSW residents will be keen to head south and support the Victorian tourism sector which has been devastated by the impact of the pandemic and we in NSW look forward to welcoming Victorian tourists once again.”
Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said he strongly praised the move by the NSW Premier, with the return of business from Victoria being a vital step in the continued recovery of the accommodation sector.
“We have been reinforcing to all state and territory governments that certainty around our borders will be critical to the recovery of the sector. Important to this recovery will be the need for all governments to work together so that when borders open it is done in a safe and sustainable way providing long term confidence to travellers and enable them to commit to booking,” Long said.
Accor Pacific CEO, Simon McGrath, labelled the announcement as a welcome step in the right direction.
“Victorian and NSW residents, families and friends will be back together once again soon, which is terrific news,” McGrath said.
“Our hotels, resorts and apartments are operating in a COVID-safe way, and we will continue to prioritise guest safety.”
Hotel operators were equally positive in their views, with Choice Hotels Asia-Pac CEO, Trent Fraser, saying the announcement was great news for its franchisees in the two states.
“It [has] been a very challenging year for our industry, and we welcome a decision that encourages more domestic travel,” Fraser said.
Quest Apartment Hotels COO, David Mansfield, added that as the company’s largest cluster of franchisees sits within the two states, the Premier’s announcement would be welcome news.
“The timing is favourable. Just this week we have re-launched our On the Road Again campaign aimed to inspire Australian’s to see more of their own backyard and support domestic tourism.
“Based on recent intrastate travel trends, we are optimistic the desire for trips ahead of Christmas and into the new year will be strong, providing a much needed boost for our operators.”