$1b bonanza to resurrect Qld tourism
IT'S the $1 billion Easter extravaganza set to resurrect the Queensland tourism industry.
As experts mull over industry-wide losses estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to the spread of the coronavirus on the back of devastating bushfires and a summer ruined by torrential rain and floods, Queensland tourism operators are salivating at the prospect of a $1 billion bonanza over next month's Easter holidays.
The perfect storm which has crippled the industry in the past two months could ironically serve as a springboard for a turbocharged Easter as holiday-makers desperate to shake off the cabin fever of a soggy summer or the frustration of cancelled overseas trips head for the road to make the most of school holidays and a four-day weekend.
The timing could not be better for Queensland tourism operators bracing for the full impact of the China travel ban and a potential coronavirus pandemic.
Easter is traditionally the strongest period of the year for tourism operators, with more tourists taking drive or domestic holidays over the more condensed time frame than in summer or September.
Two years ago Easter provided an even bigger goldmine, with the dates leading in to an Anzac Day long weekend which produced an estimated $2 billion bonanza over a golden 10-day period.
Easter falls two weeks before Anzac Day this year, but Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said it was still shaping as a godsend for operators.
"Easter is always really big for regional travel and it's certainly come at just the right time this year," he said.
"The shorter break means people are really only going away for four or five days, which means there is a much bigger focus on domestic or regional travel."
He said the windfall would be a welcome respite for many operators already hit hard by the impact of the China travel ban over the past month and the wet weather which wiped out much of January and February.
"We've had big numbers in the red so now we need big numbers in the black," he said.
"Easter really is Queensland's time to shine.
"It's also the case that most of summer was marred by some pretty lousy weather, so it's the perfect opportunity for people who might have missed out on getting away to take a well-earned break somewhere in our great state.
"It's not as hot, the weather is often more reliable, it really is Queensland at its best."
Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington said it was an important time for the industry.
"The Easter holidays are vital to Queensland's tourism industry, especially for domestic visitation, with thousands of Australians taking the opportunity to experience the very best of our state.
"We know our Queensland tourism and event operators offer an array of perfect Easter holiday experiences, which we are showcasing through our beautiful place to holiday here campaign."
Many in the tourism industry were reporting strong results through December before January and February arrived to deliver some of the wettest weather in Queensland history.
ATTRACTIONS GO ALL OUT FOR LOCALS
POPULAR Queensland tourist attractions are ramping up their offerings for locals to combat the loss of international visitors.
Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary will announce a new exhibit in coming weeks and beef up school holiday activities for Easter, before koala joeys emerge from their mothers' pouches between May and July. They're running daily walks with dingo puppies and showing free, dog-friendly outdoor movies twice a month.
A third of visitors to the Brisbane animal haven are Queenslanders, and Lone Pine general manager Robert Friedler said the support of locals was critical.
"It's very important. At a time when many international flights are cancelled, it is the support of locals which will keep businesses thriving," Mr Friedler said.
Brisbane mother Emma Davis, who took her children to Lone Pine on Sunday, said she was going to explore more of Queensland this year.
"This year we've decided to stay close to home and take short trips. It works better for us to fit activities in around school and sport, and I see it as our way of supporting local businesses," she said.
"There is actually so much of Queensland we haven't yet seen. Our favourite things to do in SEQ are Sunshine Coast beaches, the Mt Coolum climb, Maleny Dairy, Stanthorpe wineries, Springbrook walks and the Queen Mary Falls."