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Labor talks tourism in the Whitsundays

By Mark Beale

TOURISM was the focus of announcements made by Leader of the Opposition Annastacia Palaszczuk during a visit to Airlie Beach last week.

At a press conference on the foreshore near the lagoon where she was joined by her Whitsunday candidate Brownwyn Taha, Ms Palaszczuk pledged $10 million a year over the next four years for the State Government’s marketing and events agency, Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ).

Ms Palaszczuk said the Newman Government had let Queensland’s tourism and hospitality operators down by cutting more than $20 million from TEQ last year, which in turn saw Queensland’s market share of overnight visitors fall by 1.1 per cent.

“Campbell Newman talks about tourism being one of the ‘four pillars’ [but] I’m passionate [about it], I’ve been listening to the tourism stakeholders and they have told me that extra money will bring in the extra visitors,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk also pledged four-year funding guarantees for supporting new and improved major events.

“We need to make sure that these regional tourism events have certainty – that there is a guarantee for the future,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk’s other election promises included re-iterating a $100 million commitment to the Great Barrier Reef, made earlier in the week.

Ms Palaszczuk said the health of the reef had attracted international attention with the possibility of being listed as ‘in danger’ in 2015.

She said that under a Labor Government a ‘high-level taskforce’ would be created to fight for increased federal funding for the reef.

Representatives from the local tourism industry and small business sector attended the press conference for the opportunity to ask questions of the ALP.

Local voter Deb Lewis asked Bronwyn Taha what the party would do for small business in the Whitsundays.

Ms Taha said she thought the bottom line was that “we have a local member who understands them and connects to those sectors making sure they get the attention they deserve”.

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