September 2020 Update: From the Chief Executive

With a few positive steps towards a return to business for our industry, we continue to advocate on multiple fronts. Easing of border restrictions and operational restrictions remain a priority. The opening of the Queensland border to the ACT and Northern NSW is an encouraging step and will hopefully guide us towards a responsible opening for all of NSW. With excellent health outcomes in Queensland, limits on some aspects of tourism operations have also been eased, including for outdoor events.

While there are still many restrictions in place, the latest steps will allow more businesses to operate with greater viability. The state-of-play in our industry meanwhile is a story of mixed fortunes. Some of our members, especially in the South East Corner and the Outback are reporting strong activity, while others are still suffering. Not just international visitors are missing, but corporate travel has all but disappeared, as have most of the interstate markets. Not all business can easily ‘pivot’ to the intrastate market.

Government support will be critical for our industry and for many operators for some time. We are in close contact with both state and federal agencies to ensure support measures remain on the agenda. A continuation of current support from the State Government is critical, including when it comes to relief from fees and charges. We are urging a commitment to these measures well beyond the elections.

The announcement on Sunday of a $50 million Recovery for Regional Tourism program will bring some joy to the nine regions who will benefit. The selection of the region is based on their dependence on international tourism. With $23.5 million for Queensland regions (Gold Coast $10m; Tropical North Queensland $10m; Whitsundays $3.5m) our state did well but some regions will feel overlooked. In addition, the Federal Government also announced a $200m regional infrastructure grants program, with $100m earmarked specifically for tourism projects.

At the national level, we have also made a concerted effort to solicit better solutions for the Working Holiday Visa program (ATIC statement attached). We continue to work with our national organisation, the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC), across numerous federal issues to bring to bear our collective, regional strength with our colleagues in all other states and territories. The latest ATIC update is attached.

On a particularly cheerful note, last week we were able to host our first event with ‘real people’ in a long while. World Tourism Day was the occasion and despite the current crisis, this year’s theme set by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) seems more relevant than ever:

“The 2020 edition of World Tourism Day, with the theme of “Tourism and Rural Development”, will celebrate the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world. This year’s international day of observation comes at a critical moment, as countries around the world look to tourism to drive recovery, including in rural communities where the sector is a leading employer and economic pillar providing jobs and opportunity, most notably for women and youth.”

We agree!

We also used the occasion to celebrate this year’s mentors and mentees of our QTIC Young Professionals Mentoring Program who have made a significant effort to build our industry’s expertise and professional future. The event was attended by the Queensland Minister for Tourism, Kate Jones, who delivered one of her final speeches in her role, and the Shadow Minister for Tourism, David Cristafulli. The 150 attendees at the sell-out event were also given a snapshot of the efforts of ten tourism businesses from our regions, who have demonstrated outstanding adaptability and innovation during the current challenges – all very inspirational.

More good news soon, we hope. Thank you for all your efforts in making this industry such a contributor to this state and its community!