Mama Africa Bar and Nightclub and Gypsy Car Rentals Owner Rich Close said the region could benefit from investing more into Schoolies in the future.
Mama Africa Bar and Nightclub and Gypsy Car Rentals Owner Rich Close said the region could benefit from investing more into Schoolies in the future.

Hope different visitors will fill gap if Schoolies is canned

A QUESTION mark is hanging over a Schoolies program with a Whitsunday nightclub owner saying the event's cancellation would need to be advertised so non-Schoolies come to the region.

Whitsunday Regional Council's Schoolies program is set to go under the spotlight at tomorrow's ordinary council meeting with a recommendation the week-long program be cancelled because of the pandemic.

The meeting agenda says the Whitsunday Schoolies Advisory Committee met several times and unanimously agreed "that it would be a too high a risk to the community to run the program this year".

The program involves activities, including mosh-pit style dance parties, that attract up to 1200 participants a year from across Queensland and interstate.

Mama Africa Bar and Nightclub and Gypsy Car Rentals Owner Rich Close said a cancellation of council's 2020 Schoolies program may not be a bad thing for the region.

 

Mackay's Taila Gilchrist, Kati Irelandes and Mikayla Rogers ware taking part in Schoolies in Airlie Beach in 2019.
Mackay's Taila Gilchrist, Kati Irelandes and Mikayla Rogers ware taking part in Schoolies in Airlie Beach in 2019.

However, he said the cancellation would need to be advertised so other visitors knew they could visit a Schoolies-free area.

"When Schoolies is on, it keeps away your normal domestic travellers," he said.

"Over six years, Schoolies has been, for a travel sense and car rental sense, has been the worst week for revenue.

"I think council, for the good of the town, should cancel it.

"Then that won't give us a week of no normal domestic (travellers) coming up here.

"With so many businesses dependent on making money week to week right now, we really can't afford to lose a week's worth of revenue due to Schoolies being here."

Mr Close said the border closure and the fact the majority of Queensland students graduate at age 17 and therefore would not provide revenue for bars and clubs, posed further challenges for a profitable Schoolies week.

The official Schoolies program, run by Schoolies.com, is going ahead as planned with several accommodation options in Airlie Beach on offer for school leavers.

 

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The event runs over two weeks from November 21 to December 8.

Under the Schoolies.com website's COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions, it is stated that "at this stage it's 'business as usual' for 2020 Schoolies as there are currently no restrictions that have been put in place by government over the dates of your holiday that will restrict you from celebrating Schoolies with your friends".

However, Mr Close stressed he was not "anti-schoolies" but rather hoped if the region was going to advertise itself as a Schoolies destination in the future that there would be more investment into making it worthwhile.

"If they do it properly and they put all the events on like a Gold Coast set up, well then you're going to get hundreds and hundreds of (people) here and they're going to contribute to the economy and it's worth it," he said.

"If it's done properly it could be a great money-making thing for boat operators, for cafes, for caterers and for the hotels as well."

Last month, a new Adventure Tourism company, Schoolies XP, launched an all inclusive "island journey" for visitors that includes a stop in the Whitsundays.


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