‘Tourism titans’ Gold Coast call for extra funds to offset coronavirus impact

The Queensland Government is set to put $2 million into a coronavirus tourism rescue plan to lure Australians to the Gold Coast before targeting international markets such as Malaysia, New Zealand and Japan to make up for the predicted loss from the Chinese market.

“We know that both Gold Coast and Cairns will be hardest hit when it comes to Chinese travellers,” Tourism Minister Kate Jones told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“I’ve been in constant contact with Gold Coast tourism leaders. They’re already rolling out their campaign to spend money here on the Gold Coast.

“(Federal Tourism Minister) Simon Birmingham has assured all state ministers that he will provide support to the industry and we will work with him and the Federal Government.”

Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said they needed “a large amount of money” to invest in marketing oversees.

“We are working hard to try and assist but the impact will be felt not only by the airlines and airports but the tour companies, the restaurants and this means jobs may be affected depending on how long this goes on for,” he said.

“It has set us back a couple of years so far, but we do not know how big the impact is going to be.”

Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista called on the government to prioritise the Gold Coast as they are “the titans of the Queensland tourism industry”.

“We need to prop up our economy because tourism is the bedrock of it,” she told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“This cannot be a case of everyone gets a prize – the Gold Coast and Cairns will be the most heavily affected because of the number of Chinese visitors we get.”

Battista has asked for an immediate injection of $5 million into the Gold Coast tourism sector so it can heavily target international markets such as New Zealand.

“The tourism sector is hurting badly as a result of the bushfires and the coronavirus – there is widespread panic in the sector and this could get worse,” she told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“Just look at the bushfires – people thought an impact of $1 billion was too much – now it’s north of $4.5 billion and counting.”

WA is also injecting millions of dollars into tourism.

The Western Australia Government has also announced that tourism will get a $2.85 million injection to “entice interstate visitors to WA”.

Segments of the tourism sector in WA are also struggling with the travel ban out of China coming soon after the trial of direct Perth-to-Shanghai flights.

Not everyone is happy with the extra funding going to tourism with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance saying “taxpayers don’t need to subsidise every industry facing hard times”.

“Farmers have received subsidies after suffering for years in a government made drought,” said ATA Policy Director, Emilie Dye.

“Bushfire survivors have received aid after losing everything to the fires. I don’t think travel agencies quite make the cut?”

“It seems the tourism industry has forgotten the primary rule of investing: diversify, diversify, diversify. They put all their bats in one basket and now they have come home to roost. Travel agencies still have 194 countries they can do business with.

“The taxpayers are not responsible for poor business practices in the tourism industry.”