FISH D’Vine owners Kev Collins and Rebecca Clark received a visit from Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor during a brief visit to the area last week.
Mr Lawlor toured Airlie Beach with Whitsunday MP Jan Jarratt and Tourism Whitsunday CEO Peter O’Reilly and said he was heartened to see the region’s island resorts and mainland accommodation, shops and restaurants were all well and truly open for business.
He also said it was pleasing to hear that almost all tour operators were back in business and that national parks were almost all reopened.
Ms Jarratt echoed Mr Lawlor’s sentiments.
“Almost all tourism operations are fully operational, the beaches are looking great and the water is back to its famous Whitsundays blue,” she said.
Tourism Whitsundays CEO Peter O’Reilly said with Easter a bit patchy across the Whitsunday tourism sector it was important to be actively promoting the area.
“We are hearing some reports of full bookings, and other reports of cancellations after the cyclone,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“There is definitely accommodation still available in Airlie Beach and on the islands, and with a bit of luck the weather will clear up to allow all the day trippers out on the water a great time.”
Advertisements appeared in national papers recently encouraging people to holiday in the Whitsundays in the aftermath of the cyclone.
The advertisements carried the slogan ‘Cylone? What Cyclone?’ and have been criticised as being insensitive but Mr O’Reilly said they were important in keeping the industry strong in the wake of the cyclone.
“There’s barely a dollar in this town that isn’t spent by tourists, or invested in anticipation of a tourism return on investment, and so it is crucial to all residents that we maintain continuity in our biggest economic driver,” he said.
Mr O’Reilly said Tourism Whitsundays had proposed a different theme in line with Whitsunday regional branding but with the addition of the Mackay region in the ads it was decided to stick with the What Cyclone headline.
“While some people have tried to beat a story out of this, it’s difficult to see anything but broader community benefit coming from telling Australia the Whitsundays’ tourism industry is open for business,” he said.
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