‘Ignored’: MP renews plea as nation’s borders remain closed
A renewed plea to support Whitsunday tourism operators and the “livelihoods of mums and dads” by giving them the same backing extended to their counterparts in Cairns has emerged.
Whitsunday MP Amanda Camm has requested an urgent meeting with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe to negotiate a solution for battling operators.
Ms Camm said at the moment, private marina owners were the ones subsidising and supporting the Whitsunday charter boat industry.
“The Whitsundays makes up 40 per cent of the $6.3 billion Great Barrier Reef tourism industry,” Ms Camm said.
“The Queensland Government needs to provide equitable support and funding to operators who are impacted by international border closures.
“I have written to the Queensland Tourism Minister and Premier to seek an urgent meeting so that a funding arrangement similar to Cairns and Ports North can be negotiated for the Whitsundays.”
Ms Camm said the Whitsundays should not be “ignored and overlooked” any longer.
“This is not about politics. This is about the livelihoods of mums and dads,” she said.
“I urge the Queensland Government to engage with operators who are facing the same challenges as their counterparts in Cairns.”
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the State Government extended fee relief to reef fleet operators at the Cairns Marlin Marina because it was government-owned.
“We don’t own marinas in the Whitsundays, but the Palaszczuk Government has provided almost $1.2 million in marine tourism rebates for Whitsunday fleet operators,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It’s reasonable for reef boat operators to expect a better mooring deal with their marina owner that reflects the impact of COVID and the region’s economic recovery.”
Mr Hinchliffe said Ms Camm could lobby owners for a better deal for boat operators, as had happened with the Cairns Marlin Marina.
“After all, every part of Queensland’s Tourism Industry has been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic and has cut their cloth to fit,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has delivered more than $17 million to help tourism operators in the Whitsunday region through COVID including small business adaptation grants, jobs support loans, airline support, industry support packages, international tourism adaptation grants, DNRME rent waivers and liquor tax exemptions.
“As one of our state’s most important tourism regions, since 2015 the Palaszczuk Government has invested more than $120 million to directly support Whitsunday tourism, on top of COVID relief measures.
“And, there are further Palaszczuk Government support measures to come to help Whitsunday tourism to rebuild better.”
Mr Hinchliffe noted the federal government had included routes to the Whitsundays in its half-price airfare deal from April 1.
“Although, flights from Brisbane to Proserpine, Brisbane to Hamilton Island and Melbourne to Hamilton Island have been left out of the package, which the Member for Whitsunday should be raising with her federal colleagues,” he said.