Coronavirus taskforce to be formed in Whitsundays
A TASKFORCE to help map the Whitsundays’ road to economic recovery will soon be formed as the region continues to grapple with the impacts of coronavirus.
The Whitsunday Recovery Taskforce is a joint initiative by mayor Andrew Willcox and Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and will be formed over the next fortnight.
Cr Willcox will be the chair of the taskforce and work with representatives from Tourism Whitsundays, the respective chambers of commerce and other economic groups to formulate initiatives that will help the region recover from the economic effects of coronavirus.
Mr Christensen said the taskforce was vital in helping the Whitsundays get back on its feet because of the region’s large reliance on tourism to fuel its economy.
“The mayor and I have been talking about the fact that the Whitsundays is ground zero for this pandemic in Australia,” he said.
“The heavy reliance on tourism is going to mean that the economic pain will continue in the Whitsundays beyond what the rest of the country experiences.
“The whole point will be to come up with plans and tasks that come to us via feedback from the community and industry and try and get these things happening as soon as possible with all three levels of government working together along with industry and community.”
The taskforce will begin by investigating the needs of different groups within the community, which Cr Willcox said would provide an understanding of specific areas in the region that could benefit from further assistance.
“This needs to be a committee of action,” he said.
“We will get the Federal Member for Dawson Mr George Christensen to go in to bat for us … and I’m really pleased (Mr Christensen) knows with one in three jobs in the Whitsundays tourism-related, it’s far more than just tourism (that is affected by coronavirus).
“It’s all the ancillary business that runs off that as well as the business community in all our towns that are doing it really tough. We need to make sure we provide any stimulus when we can.”
Mr Christensen hoped the taskforce would provide a better insight into ways the Whitsundays could recover, despite other restrictions still in place.
“The point is to get the Whitsundays back on its feet as soon as possible,” he said.
“There may have to be extra measures put in place to assist the rebuilding of tourism in particular, and the international borders are going to be closed for a long time beyond the lifting of other restrictions, so we are going to have to look at what else can be done to lift up the economy while tourism is not fully operational.”