The Townsville North Queensland visitor economy is grappling with severe setbacks in the aftermath of consecutive natural disasters. Cyclone Jasper, though sparing the region from physical damage, inflicted significant financial losses through millions of dollars in booking cancellations and negatively shifted consumer sentiment. Just six weeks later, Cyclone Kirrily struck the region directly, exacerbating the situation with widespread cancellations and enduring challenges to the region's sentiment and forward bookings. Unfortunately, both weather events were timed over the busier Christmas and long weekend periods – with businesses planning for higher trade.
The economic toll is staggering, with already an estimated $18M in booking cancellations realised across Townsville North Queensland. Forward bookings through to the end of March are also at record lows. Both consumer and business confidence have been hit hard during these times.
On Saturday 27 January 2024, we met with Queensland Premier Hon Steven Miles and Federal Minister for Agriculture and Emergency Mangement Hon Murray Watt, to discuss the needs of this industry to recover and to rebuild consumer demand.
Townsville Enterprise and a number of local operators presented a Townsville North Queensland Recovery Action Plan. This proposed three stage action plan will help to address immediate concerns of the tourism sector in rebuilding demand through incentive schemes, it will help to build a more resilient industry, and will future proof the industry through destination promotion.
What we asked for:
To address the immediate demand decline through:
- $500,000 voucher scheme, providing 50% discount to locals, North Queensland residents (Cairns, Mackay, and Mount Isa), and in-region emergency service personnel to book discounted tours or attractions in Townsville North Queensland.
- Deferring monthly and quarterly BAS Payments for Tourism and Accommodation operators to assist with cashflow throughout January / February / March.
To help build a more resilient industry through:
- $200,000 in business resilience training packages to be offered to local tourism, hospitality, and entertainment businesses.
- Re-instating the 50% Wage Boost Rebate for Tourism and Accommodation operators to assist with upskilling of staff. The scheme allows operators to upskill their staff whilst getting a 50% wage rebate (up to $7000 per quarter) on the basis they enrol in a cert 3 or cert 4 Tafe course. The rebate assists operators in covering the time and cost of allowing the staff member to do training within work hours. Ultimately this leads to a more capable and sustainable workforce.
To rebuild consumer confidence with:
- Flight incentives from key metropolitan and regional destinations including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba. Through either a flight sale or travel voucher program. Incentivising and making it more affordable to travel to Townsville North Queensland.
- $1.7M Destination Awareness Marketing Fund to support recovery and ‘open for business’ messaging in our key markets domestically.
- $1.5M events attraction and marketing fund to help secure and promote new national and international scale performances in Townsville North Queensland.