Light at end of tunnel for tourism operators
QUEENSLAND tourism operators are cautiously drawing up recovery plans after Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement that they could be back in business as early as next month.
Mr Morrison said on Tuesday that he was hopeful interstate travel could resume as soon as the June school holidays.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce said interstate airfares could be slashed as low as $19 to stimulate travel and the Federal Government is preparing to unveil a new domestic tourism campaign.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said Sunshine State operators were ready to 'burst out of the gates' as soon as restrictions were lifted, with Tourism and Events Queensland holding a major strategy meeting today.
Local operators say they are feeling optimistic for the first time since the COVID-19 crisis hit and are devising social distancing and hygiene plans and renovating to ready for reopening.
Paul Newman, director of the popular Dracula's cabaret on the Gold Coast, said staff were rehearsing and the Broadbeach facility was being spruced up as it looked to welcome patrons back.
"We're sending the ghost train around the tracks every second day and running the smoke machines, lighting and sound systems for when we get the green light to reopen," he said.
"It's so heartening to hear some positive news from the Prime Minister and some of the state premiers. We're cautious but we appear to be heading in the right direction at last."
Mr Newman predicted cooped-up Aussies would drive a domestic tourism boom and many would head to the Gold Coast.
"I think the Gold Coast will become one of the hottest holiday destinations over the next year for sure," he said.
John Sharpe, owner of Riverlife Adventure Centre at Kangaroo Point, has reintroduced kayaking after the easing of coronavirus restrictions and said he was looking forward to a 'slow and steady' return to normal business.
"We'll get to the stage where as soon as they remove a few more restrictions around group numbers, we'll restart some smaller tours and activities like rock climbing," he said.
Mr Sharpe said many businesses like his which relied on international visitors were having to readjust to target domestic tourists and locals.
He said the airlines were critical to Queensland's tourism recovery.
"The interstate market, in particular, really depends on the airlines," he said.
"If the airlines are back up and running and people are jumping back on flights, we'll start to see things rebound."
Wheel of Brisbane owner Richard Dixon said he believed a resumption of interstate travel by next month was 'a little bit optimistic' but was hopeful of reopening the iconic attraction in some form.
"A month ago, there was no end in sight to this - it was like 'when is it going to end?'," he said.
"At least now we're starting to talk about a recovery and we can plan for the way ahead."
Originally published as Light at end of tunnel for tourism operators