First weekend back brings optimism for businesses
AS RESTRICTIONS eased surrounding coronavirus measures, many tourism businesses took to the water again with optimism and hope.
For owner and operator of Whitsunday Jetski Tours, Steve Ward, the weekend was the perfect way to dip the tour company’s toes back in the figurative and literal water.
In regular communication with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Water Police and Whitsunday police, the positive outcome resulted in the tour company being able to commence operating two of its tours.
“It all happened quite quickly, but we rolled everything out with great excitement,” Mr Ward said.
“Our tours operated every day over the long weekend and not only did our locals enjoy being back on the water, but so did our guides.”
The first tour operated on Saturday morning, as local guests enjoyed some open water adventure on the Two Island Safari tour around Daydream and South Molle Islands.
Additional tours followed on Sunday and Monday with more Whitsunday residents taking to the water.
However it was a mixed bag for some tourism operators who were able to offer their services over the long weekend.
Bob Dalton who owns Airlie Boat Hire said he only hired out one boat over the three days, but he was optimistic that it was the start of returning to normal trade.
“It was quiet, really quiet, but it’s good to have any business at all at the moment,” he said.
“This time of year I would start to get a lot of people coming up from down south for the weather but obviously with the borders closed there’s not much chance of that happening.”
Airlie Boat Hire owns a fleet of eight vessels, with the largest holding seven people.
Mr Dalton said with current restrictions there were limitations as to how many people could use a boat and that hindered business.
However, he encouraged Whitsunday residents to use his services and said he would “always look after the locals”.
“A lot of the time people would split the costs of hiring a boat between friends, but you can only have two people at the moment who aren’t in the same household,” he said.
“It’s good though, having someone hire a boat every now and again is better than no one hiring at all, because before the weekend there was nothing coming in.”
Mr Dalton said he felt for the sailing boats who relied heavily on international tourists and hoped to see them on their feet and at full capacity as soon as possible.
The bittersweet nature of coming back to work as other tourism operators struggled among virus measures was seconded by Mr Ward.
“While we are happy to be back on the water, it’s a little bittersweet as we can’t wait to see all of our other Whitsunday friends and businesses back up and running in full when it is safe to do so,” he said.
“At that point, it also means that we can recommence our other tours which include resort visits to Paradise Cove Resort and Palm Bay, so there’s still plenty to look forward to, as long as we all do the right thing in the meantime.”