A Mildura resort that normally houses flight school students but has sat largely empty due to a lack of international students has rejected the idea it could be used as an alternative site for hotel quarantine.
Pearson Aviation – a sister company of International Aviation Alliance – hosts flight schools at the Mildura Airport, with its students staying at the nearby 200-room Inlander Resort in the Victorian-NSW border city.
Pearson Aviation head of operations Sundeep Bhanushali said a lack of students from overseas meant the resort could be the “perfect option for hotel quarantine”.
But the resort’s management team has rejected the idea.
“The author of comments, Mr Sundeep Bhanushali, is not an employee of the Inlander Resort and was not authorised to speak on behalf of the company,” a spokesperson said.
“His personal opinion … does not reflect the views of resort management.
“The idea of being a COVID quarantine hotel is not something that has ever been considered nor will it be.
“We fully understand the community’s concern at keeping COVID out of Mildura and we agree with those concerns.
“Bringing COVID to Mildura in any scenario is completely at odds with our position. We are open to business guests and travellers wishing to enjoy the Sunraysia region, and will ensure that it is done COVID free.”
There has been a string of incidents involving coronavirus escaping hotel quarantine facilities, forcing cities into strict lockdowns.
A worker who tested positive to the highly infectious UK variant of the coronavirus at the Holiday Inn sparked Melbourne to shut down for five days in February.
And after almost two months of remaining virus-free, Sydney was on the brink of a possible outbreak last week after a security guard at the Sofitel Hotel in Wentworth and the Mantra Hotel in Haymarket tested positive for the virus despite having already had his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
An inquiry into Melbourne’s bungled hotel quarantine scheme in mid-2020 also found it was the cause of the state’s deadly second wave of coronavirus that claimed the lives of 801 Victorians.
NCA NewsWire understands the Victorian government is examining alternative models of mandatory quarantine, including purpose-built accommodation outside the CBD.
It follows a market sounding process via tender where the government sought industry insights on design, delivery and operational issues on the implementation of an alternative hotel quarantine.
“Senior officials are undertaking planning work for a stand-alone accommodation hub. Further details will be provided as that work progresses,” a government spokesperson said.
It comes amid desperate calls from Victorian leaders to have more flights scheduled to land in Victoria in a bid to boost the state’s economy.
Victoria’s Regional Tourism Boards signed a joint letter to federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan urging him to add extra Victorian locations to the federal government’s half-price airfare initiative.
City of Melbourne councillors also endorsed an urgent motion calling on the federal government to include flights into Tullamarine Airport as part of its mammoth tourism support package.
Under the existing scheme, 800,000 half-priced flights will be on offer, but the only eligible inbound flights into Victoria are from the Gold Coast to Avalon and Sydney to Avalon.