It’s usually the trip of a lifetime for thousands of high school graduates – but thanks to Covid, this year for Schoolies will likely be very different.
It’s supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for thousands of high school graduates – but thanks to snap border closures and the rise of the Delta strain, this year will likely be very different for those celebrating Schoolies.
Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading issued a warning to the thousands of school leavers that were looking at, or had already booked, a Schoolies trip to the Sunshine State.
The Gold Coast is the most popular spot for Schoolies, with thousands of teens descending on Surfers Paradise every November to celebrate the end of school.
Fair Trading warned Schoolies to carefully review the terms and conditions (T&Cs) attached to their hotel and flight bookings before locking them in.
“The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is aware students from other states may have made bookings in Queensland earlier in the year,” Commissioner Victoria Thomson said.
“Last year, when the pandemic was new and unprecedented, people may have been provided refunds under the accommodation providers’ T&Cs, even when they were under no obligation to do so.
“However, by early 2021, most accommodation providers had updated their booking T&Cs to cover pandemic-related cancellations due to government-imposed restrictions.
“Unfortunately, if the person making the booking didn’t read the T&Cs conditions properly and accepted them by paying a deposit, they will be bound to those conditions which may leave them out of pocket.”
School leavers typically spend months saving up the money needed to go on their Schoolies trip, with the week-long bookings typically costing in excess of $700.
Revealing Queensland’s road map to freedom on Monday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was “locked in” to reopening the borders on the dates set out in her plan, regardless of vaccination rates.
The Sunshine State is expected to hit 70 per cent double dose on November 19 and 80 per cent on December 17.
“We have to reunite families. This is fundamental,” the Premier said.
“We know that the world is a big place and there are families across Australia and there are families across the world and people have been telling me how they missed seeing their uncles, their aunts, their mothers, their fathers, their children.
“This is really important that we unite Queenslanders but we do it in the safest way. We are going to try to minimise the risk and there are key steps along the path.”
Ms Thomson said that, while Queensland graduates are still freely able to travel to the Schoolies hot spots, this could change when the state begins to open up.
“(Graduates) will need to keep in mind physical distancing and limits to the amount of people allowed inside accommodation, as well as the potential for lockdowns and restrictions impacting their plans,” she said.
“If the situation changes and the Gold Coast was to go into a lockdown, the booking terms and conditions will determine if they get their deposit back or not.”
If a school leaver believes they are entitled to a refund and they’ve been unable to resolve the matter with the trader directly, they are encouraged to lodge a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading.