The Whitsundays is open for business.
This is the message from the region’s tourism industry and the mantra our state and federal politicians are chanting to the world.
Federal Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo was first to spread the word today, beamed to the nation’s television screens from Hamilton Island via a live cross on Channel 9’s Today Show.
“We have 10,000 jobs in the Whitsundays’ tourism industry including places like Airlie Beach and they want Australians to know that they are open for business,” he told the Today Show’s hosts.
“These guys are so resilient – they’re bouncing back straight away and I’ve got to say they have done an outstanding job at getting the place cleaned up…
“The best way that Aussies can show their support for other Aussies who’ve just been through a difficult time is to put their money where their mouth is, take that Easter holiday, take that break over the winter period – come back and support the Whitsundays tourism industry.”
Mr Ciobo’s words were echoed by State Tourism Minister Kate Jones who, at a press conference in Airlie Beach, said Whitsunday tourism operators had worked “really hard around the clock for your Easter long weekend”.
“So please, if you’re still planning your holiday, there is time to book and come and see the beautiful Whitsundays this Easter holiday,” she implored the public through the national press.”
“Also, we’ve got long weekends coming up across Queensland, the Labour Day weekend and the Anzac weekend. Come and show your support and your spirit for the Whitsundays and Queensland tourism,” she said.
When asked what visitors could expect from the islands and reef, Tourism Whitsundays chairman Allen Grundy said the place was still heaven.
“We’ve been taking visitors out since April 1,” he said.
“If you walk up to Hill Inlet, the beach looking down, which is called Hill Inlet Beach and Betty’s Beach – it looks amazing.
“What’s happened is some of the sand from the beach has blown to the northern end so that bit of beach is bigger than ever.
“The southern end of the beach was damaged but it’s under reconstruction at the moment – and National Parks… are doing a phenomenal job.
“The walking tracks have opened up really quickly – the Hill Inlet walk – the beautiful walk up in Nara Inlet to look at the Aboriginal drawings and South Whitehaven Beach.
“Guests that came back from one of our tours yesterday went and visited Haslewood Island and Chalkies Beach and had a magnificent time swimming.”
In terms of the reef Mr Grundy said places like Caves Cove and Stonehaven were still in good order “and we’re going there to snorkel”.
“There’s places near Hook Island… where we’re finding good coral and I’ve no doubt the outer Barrier Reef is in good shape as well,” he said.
“It’s a massive system, sure, we’ve got some damage but we’re working on it. The reef is resilient it will come back…”
And Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who also flew in today, said she couldn’t believe how much had been achieved since she was here last Tuesday.
“What a difference a week makes in the Whitsundays,” she said.
“Just one week ago we still had a lot of residents here without power. (But) look how beautiful this place is (now). It doesn’t get much better than this.”
Source: Whitsunday Times.