The pristine foreshore of Airlie Beach.
The pristine foreshore of Airlie Beach.

Coronavirus travel ban hits region's tourism sector

WHITSUNDAY tourism operators are already hurting from the Chinese Government's ban on group travel due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

A number of Whitsunday tourism operators have been hit by cancellations from Chinese tourists in recent weeks, Tourism Whitsundays has confirmed.

The organisation's chief executive, Tash Wheeler, said it was too soon to determine how many cancellations there had been.

"There will undoubtedly be an impact to Chinese visitation to the Whitsundays due to coronavirus, as Chinese New Year is one of the key outbound travel periods for the Chinese market," Ms Wheeler said.

"However, we are still monitoring this and unsure of the impact."

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Tash Wheeler. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Tash Wheeler. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Whitsunday Region Mayor Andrew Willcox said China was a growing tourism market for the region and the outbreak would affect the influx of visitors anticipated for Chinese New Year celebrations.

"The health and wellbeing of tourists here from all over the world, as well as the residents in Whitsunday, is very important - that's my priority," Cr Willcox said.

"The council will be working with our tourism stakeholders to make sure we get them over this latest hurdle."

Cr Willcox urged Whitsundays' northern and southern neighbours, Townsville and Mackay, to show their support for the region.

"Book a holiday here for the weekend or the week," he said.

"We're open for business and it would certainly be very welcome."

Aerial view of Airlie Beach.
Aerial view of Airlie Beach.

Mackay Tourism chief executive Tas Webber said there would be less of an impact on Mackay tourism operators as China was not a key tourism market for the region.

"In saying that, we are working with our regional tourism operator colleagues in Queensland to monitor the situation to make sure there are no adverse effects to any other markets," he said.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the coronavirus "scare" would have a trickle-down impact on Mackay's inbound international trade.

"We don't see a lot of Chinese travellers in this area, we see European tourists, mostly from Germany," Cr Williamson said.

"Any scare like this affects the world travel market. People tend to not want to be on aeroplanes. Even if you do travel from Europe, you'll stop in Hong Kong or Singapore.

"I would expect there would be a flow-on effect on the global tourism market that will impact our inbound international trade."


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