Millions lost as virus hits tourism industry
NEW data shows the impact of coronavirus on the region's tourism industry is severe.
Preliminary figures from Mackay Tourism reveal a handful of operators alone lost about $400,000 in bookings and cancellations in the past week.
Since the beginning of February, 83 businesses in the Whitsundays have reported combined losses of $40 million and 100 jobs to Tourism Whitsundays.
Mackay Tourism chief executive officer Tas Webber said a freeze on corporate travel, which makes up more than half of Mackay's visitation, was having dire consequences.
"Business travel is being put on hold due to the new travel restrictions. We are seeing that have an overflow effect into our market." Mr Webber said
But, this could also be our "saving grace".
"Mackay itself is in some way a little bit better off than the Whitsundays because we have a diversified (tourism) income," Mr Webber said.
"We will see our corporate, leisure and visiting friends and relatives markets fall away at a lower pace.
"We will also see that corporate market be able to bounce back really quickly."
Mackay Tourism confirmed it had pulled a number of advertising campaigns that were due to come to market soon.
"We have had to hold them back to save the resources for when the industry can really utilise them," Mr Webber said.
"Right now travel is being restricted, so there would be no point wasting our resources trying to get people to come when they are getting told through other media platforms not to."
He said the region's tourism providers were still coming to grips with the situation and had no understanding of how long it would last.
"There is no game plan in terms of what is happening, we have not been through this before," he said.
"We're in unprecedented times."
In the Whitsundays, the tourism industry employs one in every three people.
The message from tourism bodies across the country has been the same, don't turn your back on local businesses.
"Even with the current restrictions, you can still make a difference now to support our local motels, hotels, restaurants and tour operators,' Mr Webber said.
"Something as simple as spending the day exploring one of our region's pristine national parks and stopping in for a coffee, or choosing to eat out at one of our fantastic local restaurants can make a big difference in lifting the spirits of our tourism industry and will support an industry that has given so much to our community".