OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Mayor Andrew Willcox, MP Deb Frecklington and Paul Darrouzet at the VMR.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Mayor Andrew Willcox, MP Deb Frecklington and Paul Darrouzet at the VMR. Georgia Simpson

Opposition Leader in town to talk tourism

TOURISM was the hot talking point at Tuesday's meet and greet with State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

Ms Frecklington said it was good to be back in the "Wonderful Whitsundays" and called on all Queenslanders to holiday in the region over the Christmas break.

"We need as many Australians and as many tourists as possible to come and enjoy the ocean and amazing sights," she said.

Ms Frecklington acknowledged the region had experienced hard times in the past few years, but praised the tireless efforts of Whitsunday Regional Mayor Andrew Willcox and local businessman Paul Darrouzet who were "fighting all the time" for the region.

"The Whitsundays employs around 6000 people and injects $650 million back into the economy so it is vital that we support the tourism industry here," she said.

Mr Darrouzet said Abell Point Marina had bounced back well after Tropical Cyclone Debbie last year, and that the focus should be on encouraging Australians to holiday locally.

"What we need to do, is understand the complexities of our competition which has now become Bali, Fiji and the Indonesian archipelago and so forth," he said.

"With the lower Australia dollar, we need to encourage more people to stay at home and to explore what we've got here now - you can drink the water here, you're not in any danger you know all those sorts of things."

Mr Darrouzet said the recent purchase of Coral Sea Resort would be a boost.

"There will obviously be some work done on the redevelopment of it all, but the basics are there; it's got a great team, a great crew and it's well managed and well run," he said.

"I'm very confident, I've put a lot of money into this place."

Cr Willcox said tourism was struggling because there was only one island operating. "We've only got one island at the moment, which is Hamilton island, which is a fabulous experience," he said.

Cr Willcox added once Daydream Island and Hayman Island were operating next year, and the possible development of South Molle Island, tourism numbers should start to rise.

"When you have more product available, there's more things for people to do," he said.