Coronavirus: Coast businesses cut shifts to survive

 

AN iconic seafood tourism business popular among Asian holiday-makers has been forced to slash operations and work shifts as coronavirus fallout devastates the economy.

Catch a Crab at Tweed Heads West usually draws much of its trade from visitors but business has plummeted in recent weeks.

Owner Lee Eyre said the family venture, employing about a dozen workers, had taken far fewer bookings from international and domestic visitors.

Catch a Crab owner Lee Eyre (front) with workers David Eyre, Belinda Cohan and Joel Eyre. The business is one of many affected by the impact the coronavirus has had on tourism. Picture: Scott Powick
Catch a Crab owner Lee Eyre (front) with workers David Eyre, Belinda Cohan and Joel Eyre. The business is one of many affected by the impact the coronavirus has had on tourism. Picture: Scott Powick

"People are just cancelling their plans to travel," she said.

"Anybody dealing with international tourists will be noticing it but even domestic tourists are cancelling their trips because they don't want to travel while the coronavirus is a threat.

"We get Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Korean tourists.

"China is affected, as far as being not allowed to travel, but others just don't want to travel because of concerns over the health risk."

Ms Eyre said Catch a Crab was usually busy in February but was now embarking on less river tours.

"We've had to reduce operations. It's not just coronavirus. There's the impacts of the bushfires, coronavirus, then the floods.

"Any assistance (from government) would be appreciated but it is still early days. We're waiting until the panic settles down and we'll see where we're at from there."

Catch a Crab owner Lee Eyre with workers Joel Eyre, David Eyre and Belinda Cohan. The tourism venture relies heavily on the Asian tourist market. Picture: Scott Powick
Catch a Crab owner Lee Eyre with workers Joel Eyre, David Eyre and Belinda Cohan. The tourism venture relies heavily on the Asian tourist market. Picture: Scott Powick

"We've had to cut shifts of all casual staff, but we're hoping that doesn't go on too long.

The business was built on the back of Asian tourists' love of fresh seafood.

"Asian countries tend to love fresh seafood so our business evolved from that."

Yesterday, the Bulletin revealed city small business operators including bikini label White Sands Swimwear were suffering from China's factory shutdowns. Food outlets at Harbour Town Premier Outlets reported big visitor downturns.

Restaurant Industry Support Gold Coast president Glen Day said: "We are really going to be feeling it in about three weeks. The past year has been tough. The coronavirus situation has only made it worst because it could end up going three to six months.

"What we are losing now is going take a year or two to recover from."

Mr Day, a Restaurant and Caterers Association board member said traders were discussing whether to lay-off casual staff."


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