With Cape Tribulation still inaccessible, forward bookings in Port Douglas well down and Cairns still behind previous years, it is essential that everything gets thrown at helping Tropical North Queensland tourism operators who face a very tough end of summer season.
The Federal and State Governments have heard our pleas for help, and we are grateful for the many announcements of government funding and new domestic campaign activity to help the tourism industry survive.
Support packages not usually offered to regions responding to and recovering from a crisis, such as the $10 million Tourism Exceptional Assistance Grants announced on the weekend, will help those who have been hardest hit by being unable to trade for more than 14 consecutive days. These grants of up to $500,000 will particularly assist operators in Cape Tribulation, who remain cut off from their customers, to cover costs such as wages and salaries, rent and supplies.
The package is part of the $24.25 million Tourism Recovery and Resilience Program that is being jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
The new grants supplement the initial emergency $1.6 million Tourism Recovery Assistance Grant to support medium to large businesses with grants of up to $50,000 to re-establish their operations.
TTNQ’s dedicated Tourism Recovery Officer’s team is helping to connect operators with the appropriate funding sources and this week they are in Cape Tribulation to assist operators. Since starting three weeks ago the team has supported more than 100 operators in mapping out their recovery. They have attended pop up booths in Port Douglas, Mossman, and Cape Tribulation, visited Cooktown, been liaising with government departments for clarification on grant guidelines and have created a flyer to simplify the available grants and assistance for tourism businesses.
The arrival of China Eastern’s seasonal services to Cairns and the growing number of Chinese travellers arriving on domestic flights at Cairns Airport is a welcome green shoot that is benefitting the operators who work in the China market.
However, with numbers low across other key international markets we need support from the domestic market to help the industry get through to Easter. New campaigns are underway through the Tourism Recovery and Resilience Program to stimulate the domestic market to travel ahead of Easter and locals are being encouraged to book tours with the Tropical Dollars campaign launched last week giving them $100 off our world-class experiences. A second phase of this $450,000 incentive will be announced soon.
The Webjet campaign, which had flights from Brisbane to Cairns from as low as $17, sold out in just 48 hours. Tourism and Events Queensland launched a major television advertising campaign, backed by radio, print, out-of-home and social media advertising, to reinforce the message around the country that Tropical North is welcoming visitors. ‘It’s tropical holiday season’ is running in Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne through to March.
Chief Executive Officer