The tourism sector in the hard-hit region of Far North Queensland is confident the recent visit by Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan will result in further support for the sector beyond JobKeeper.
Tehan and Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch met yesterday with representatives of Cairns and Port Douglas tourism businesses, marine park tourism operators and the hospitality sector, as well as advocacy groups Advance Cairns and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
Tehan said that “Border restrictions are now a bigger concern than COVID-19” for Australians wanting to travel.
“I want to listen to local tourist operators and understand how state border closures and the loss of international tourists are impacting them,” Tehan said.
“The Morrison Government is working with the tourism sector, not only in Far North Queensland, but across Australia on a post-JobKeeper plan for tourism.
“The re-opening of the Queensland border to NSW will allow more tourists to return to Far North Queensland and our Government is working with the states and territories to adopt a consistent approach to border closures and hotspots that will give certainty to tourist operators and Australians planning their next holiday.”
Domestic tourism was worth more than $2.2 billion annually to the Cairns and Port Douglas economies prior to Covid.
Entsch said Cairns and Port Douglas didn’t have a tourism problem, it had a confidence problem due to snap border closures.
“Because of Australia’s strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want tourist destinations like Cairns and Port Douglas to be ready for an influx of visitors when international travel resumes after the successful rollout of a vaccine,” he said.
“In the meantime, we want Australians to have the confidence to have their next holiday here in Far North Queensland to support local businesses and local jobs.”
Advance Cairns chairman Nick Trompf told the Cairns Post he believes Tehan “understands there is a need for continued support and the nuances of regional areas”.
“Now we will wait to see how successful he is in the cabinet room,” Trompf said.
“He was across the issues and said it was an enlightening visit and he had a better appreciation of what we faced in Cairns.”
Cairns Airport chief executive Richard Barker said Tehan assured them “that some form of targeted, temporary and timely support would be delivered”.