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Targeted tourism relief package not off the table

By Ray White Whitsunday

THE State Government has committed to ongoing talks with the tourism operators as they continue to battle the effects of coronavirus to stay afloat.

Speaking in Airlie Beach today, Tourism Minister Kate Jones did not rule out a targeted assistance package for the Whitsundays but was light on details regarding any immediate plans.

Ms Jones visited the region to announce the Labor Party’s new Whitsunday candidate Angie Kelly, the principal of Cannonvale State High school.

During her visit Ms Jones also met with Tourism Whitsundays and other operators.

Earlier this month, Tourism Whitsundays penned a letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asking for a targeted relief package to help in the region’s recovery.

When asked whether this would be considered by the State Government, Ms Jones said she would be talking to tourism operators in the region.

“We’ve already supported them with the additional flights into Proserpine and also we provided a specific funding package for them to do marketing to come to the Whitsundays,” she said.

However, both the flight support package and marketing assistance were rolled out in many areas across wider Queensland.

Living Reef supervisor and marine biologist Lochie Levings explains the process of replanting corals to Minister for Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones in a visit to Daydream Island earlier this year. Ms Jones said the state government were working with the islands to help them get “back on track”.

“The tourism industry is hurting right across the state, but we do understand the Whitsundays does have a very special part for all of us.

“We’re working with our island communities as well to try to get them back on track.”

Ms Jones referred to other assistance packages delivered to the region over the past five years including the $25 million Great Barrier Reef Island Resorts Rejuvenation Fund.

She also responded to calls for assistance for berthing fees at Coral Sea Marina.

Former deputy premier and treasurer Jackie Trad announced a $3.67 million fee relief package for operators at the Cairns Marina on February 14.

Under the relief package, commercial and reef operators in Cairns were given a 100 per cent rebate on their marina fees.

The same assistance has not been given to tourism operators berthed at Coral Sea Marina as it is privately owned.

“This is one of the biggest issues in this community and … this is a private operator that has to make decisions about the long-term benefit of his business and also the people who use it daily,” Ms Jones said.

“Undoubtedly one of the segments of the tourism industry that’s doing the toughest is the marine industry, so I’ll be sitting down with marine operators today to talk about that.

“But I think we’re all in this together and if I was a marine operator and owner, I would be listening to the people that rely on my facilities to make sure we have a long-term solution.”

Source: Whitsunday Times

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