Harry's Corner Cafe owner Harry Schneider welcomed a facade improvement policy, but said it would be more important to improve the atmosphere of the town through schemes like live music and events. Picture: Laura Thomas
Harry's Corner Cafe owner Harry Schneider welcomed a facade improvement policy, but said it would be more important to improve the atmosphere of the town through schemes like live music and events. Picture: Laura Thomas

‘People bring the atmosphere and the whole vibe’

AFTER 22 years overlooking the main street of Airlie Beach, Harry's Corner cafe owner Harry Schneider has his fair share of stories about the antics of backpackers stumbling home from Magnums.

He has weathered cyclones and more recently battled through the impacts of coronavirus.

With the town now bustling with school holiday crowds, Mr Schneider welcomed the push from the Whitsunday Recovery Taskforce to help improve the main streets.

The Whitsunday Region Priorities Plan for 2020 was endorsed during the ordinary council meeting in Bowen on Wednesday.

The plan outlined key projects and programs to aid in the region's development and COVID recovery.

Among the priorities was a main street revitalisation incentive program that would encourage business owners to improve their street appeal and lift the aesthetics of the region's town centres.

The Jungle Trader owner Ivan Pratt said the main street could be livened up with more lighting and street food festivals. Picture: File
The Jungle Trader owner Ivan Pratt said the main street could be livened up with more lighting and street food festivals. Picture: File

The task force identified $200,000 a year over three years could be channelled toward refurbishing and enhancing shop fronts, minor building aesthetics and facades across the region.

While Mr Schneider said he was more experienced in coffee than design, he would like to see more lighting and landscaping in the main street of Airlie Beach.

However, he said it would be more important to improve the atmosphere of the town through schemes like live music and events.

"My opinion is that the beautification of the street and all the millions they've spent upgrading has made no difference … because it's the people that make the difference," he said.

"If the people walk the street you don't see the asphalt because the people are there.

"That's what makes the town, the people.

"People bring the atmosphere and the whole vibe."

Mr Schneider has owned the cafe for 22 years and said he was the longest serving owner of a cafe in Airlie Beach.

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He remembered the days where "you couldn't see the footpath or the street because of the people" and hoped that numbers would continue to grow to help Airlie Beach return to its former glory.

Jungle Trader owner Ivan Pratt also said there was a lot of potential in creating an atmosphere in the main street through night markets and food festivals.

Mr Pratt suggested hanging tropical fish windsocks from the flagpoles that line the street and stringing lights across the road that match the design of the foreshore park.

"They've just got to make it look vibrant and exciting to drive into," he said.

"Let's light up the whole street."

Mr Schneider said without a rejuvenated main street, tourism would suffer and the region might "die a terrible death".

"No vibrant town, no tourists," he said.

"If the street dies, they're not going to come here just to go ocean rafting.

"You've got a have a lively street and places to eat and drink and have fun."