Business As Usual For Whitsundays Tourism Operators

By Ki Ki Taylor

It has been two months since Tropical Cyclone Debbie hit the North Queensland coast but the Whitsundays tourism and business communities have one message: “Come visit.”

The Whitsundays Coast Chamber of Commerce vice- president Mark Beale said the region was “well and truly open for visitors.”

“The first six weeks after the cyclone were hard going, but things have now returned to normal,” he said. “You look at the main street at Airlie Beach and it is business as usual. Sure some businesses are still closed but the majority are open.”

Mr Beale said the region’s businesses and locals were resilient and had bounced back from the wrath of Cyclone Debbie.

“Now we have about 90 per cent of leaves back on the trees,” he said. “If you didn’t know there had been a cyclone, you’d not necessarily suspect so if you were not a local.”

Mr Beale said the famed Airlie Beach lagoon buildings and structure were significantly damaged.

“It’ll be another 10 weeks before the lagoon is open but Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays are so much more than the lagoon,” he said.

“Now it’s not stinger season, visitors can swim in our beautiful beaches. If this happened in the stinger season, it would be much more damaging.”

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said bookings were solid post-cyclone.

“There’s a range of accommodation available and at competitive prices,” he said. “Across the board, given it’s only been about eight weeks since Cyclone Debbie, the place is looking great.”

Mr Turner said visitors could holiday in the Whitsundays knowing they would have a fantastic experience.

“Tours are operating and tours have adapted their operations if required to ensure the best visitor experience,” he said. “While we had a major weather event, the reality is the destination is still beautiful.

“ There’s a saying that the Whitsundays on its worst day is better than most places on their best day and that rings true now.

“But that’s not to say we aren’t working hard to tell people the Whitsundays is ready to welcome visitors.”

Mr Turner said he expected the upcoming school holiday period to be a busy one, urging visitors to book early.

Source: Townsville Bulletin.

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