A renowned Aboriginal tourism attraction in Cairns has shut its doors permanently as the pandemic continues to decimate the tourism industry.
Opened over three decades ago, the ban on international travellers was the final straw for Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park which had been struggling financially for a number of years.
Heavily dependent on international tourism, the board was forced to put the park into caretaker mode last year before making the painful decision to close down.
The board said in a statement that “the closure of Tjapukai wasn’t a decision made lightly or quickly”.
“Tjapukai has considered various options to continue to revitalise and grow the operations, however the business has continued to remain marginal in the face of a challenging tourism market,” the board said.
“COVID-19 has compounded these economic challenges.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Mark Olsen said the closure of Tjapukai “is a great loss to the tourism industry”.
“This will be a really difficult time for the staff, both past and present, who have made an enormous contribution to showcasing Indigenous tourism over the past 33 years,” he said.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch told the ABC there was hope the park would be resurrected.
“There is ongoing discussions with the Traditional Owners and IBA and hopefully something can come out of that,” he said.
“It’s fair to say it’s iconic and it would be a pity to see this fall into wrack and ruin.”