The effects of the NSW lockdown are being felt far beyond the Sydney region, with Canberra businesses struggling due to lack of tourism numbers, especially during school holidays.
Damian Brabender, executive chef at Otis Dining Hall in Kingston and the Truffle Farm, said the downturn in tourist trade has seen both businesses feeling the pinch.
“Currently at OTIS we have just experienced cancellations of 60% and the uptake of bookings has quartered,” he said.
“This shows exactly how dependent our hospitality and tourism sectors are on NSW travel.”
Things at the Truffle Farm are harder still, with a cancellation rate of up to 90% for events as part of the Canberra Region Truffle Festival – typically a huge winter tourism drawcard for the Territory.
It was hoped this year’s festival would draw in domestic visitors who would otherwise be overseas at this time of year, with the ACT Government banking on domestic tourism to bolster the economy.
Mr Brabender said the current situation is “simply unsustainable”, especially as truffle growers only have a small window of time during the year to operate.
“The best hope for survival and continued success for businesses in these situations is, luckily, something that Canberrans do best, and that is supporting small local business.”
Calls for support from federal, state governments
Mr Brabender said he would welcome government support for the businesses affected by the NSW lockdown, with the ACT “100% dependent on our neighbour state” for tourism revenue.
“These businesses have had their character and resilience tested enough, now is the time that the question needs to be answered: ‘who in government is really looking out for hospitality and tourism?’”
Other sectors of the ACT are expressing their frustrations, too. Canberra Airport head Stephen Byron said earlier this week state border closures are having an impact on not only the airline industry but the hotel and tourism industries as well.
“You think about what’s going on in the hotels in Canberra at the moment.
“They’ve been decimated by this closure and lockdown in Sydney… you’ve got hotels that are 200 rooms that last night had seven rooms occupied.”
Mr Byron has called for “sensible arrangements” between states and territories to keep borders open where a jurisdiction has zero cases.