Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced an extra $50 million to help support tourism businesses, theme and animal parks in the state to get through COVID-19.
Palaszczuk said Queensland would deliver a new domestic marketing campaign to align with the easing of restrictions to encourage Queenslanders to holiday at home.
The funding boost to the sector was announced as part of The Queensland Economic Recovery Strategy: Unite and recover for Queensland Jobs, to help the State recover from COVID-19 with a focus on backing Queensland jobs.
“Queensland’s tourism industry – our state’s backbone, our state’s lifeblood – has been dealt a crippling body blow by the pandemic,” the Premier said.
“Tourism was contributing $27 billion to Queensland’s economy and more than 230,000 jobs before COVID-19 hit. Nearly one in three jobs have been lost in accommodation and food services in Queensland due to restrictions. This is an impact I never imagined I would witness in my lifetime,” she said.
The $50 million support package aims to assist tourism businesses “get through this and survive and come out at the other end stronger, more resilient”.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) were in the final stages of preparing the domestic tourism campaign, which will be officially unveiled in early June ahead of the school holidays, but said the message in the first instance would be clear.
“Tourism supports one in 10 Queensland jobs. Safeguarding these jobs is a major priority for this government. Obviously state borders remain closed for the time being but restrictions on intrastate travel are beginning to ease,” Jones said, adding that Queenslanders should “get out and explore your own state.”
Jones said a subsequent campaign was planned for southern domestic markets in July.
“Ahead of interstate travel resuming, we’ll be working hard with our airline partners to deliver great fares and I’m confident Queensland will have a strong appeal for the nine million Australians who take an international trip each year and won’t be able to in 2020.”
TEQ Chief Executive Leanne Coddington said Queensland was well positioned to deliver exactly what visitors were looking for post-COVID.
“Queensland is an internationally renowned tourism destination which people travel from all over the world to experience for themselves, so the first stage is a perfect opportunity for us all to rediscover our state and fall in love with it all over again,” she said.
“What our research is showing is that more than 60 per cent of Australians are planning to take a holiday as restrictions ease and they will be looking for warm weather, plenty of sunshine, open spaces, pristine nature and welcoming hosts,” Coddington said.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind applauded the $50 million funding, in addition to the state’s $100 million grant program for small businesses “will inject some hope”.
“With restrictions of customer numbers unlikely to allow them to open any time soon these essential tourism experiences need to be kept going.”
“The first step will be entering the domestic market with consumers eager to make up for lost holidays, including the 5 million Australians who would normally holiday overseas. Now is the time to encourage people to explore the many different experiences and destinations that Queensland has to offer,” Gschwind noted.
Lead image: Tropical North Queensland