The deserted Airlie Beach Main Street.
The deserted Airlie Beach Main Street.

Tourism minister in Whitsundays for ‘post-JobKeeper plan’

The Federal Tourism Minister will visit Whitsunday tourism operators as part of work to deliver a “post-JobKeeper plan”.

Dan Tehan and Dawson MP George Christensen will meet with tourism operators on Tuesday to hear first-hand about the local sector’s recovery.

“George invited me to Dawson so I could meet local tourism business owners and workers and to hear for myself how they have been impacted by state border closures and the loss of international tourists,” Mr Tehan said.

“Since becoming minister in December, I have been in regular contact with all levels of the tourism sector. We are listening to them and collecting data to inform our decision on what happens post-JobKeeper.

“When international travel resumes, there will be queues of tourists lining up to visit our amazing tourist destinations, like here on the Whitsundays and surrounding areas.”

Mr Tehan claimed border restrictions were now a “bigger concern” than COVID-19 for Australians planning a holiday.

“The reopening of the Queensland border to NSW will allow more tourists to return to Far North Queensland and our government is working with the states and territories to adopt a consistent approach to border closures and hot spots that will give certainty to tourist operators and Australians planning their next holiday,” he said.

Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: Brendan Radke
Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: Brendan Radke

The tourism sector is pleading with the Federal Government to extend JobKeeper in some capacity as destinations like the Whitsundays continue to struggle.

Last month, Mr Christensen said he would push for not only an extension to the JobKeeper program for struggling tourism operators, but greater access to the Federal Government’s JobMaker program.

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Mr Christensen said JobKeeper and other initiatives had helped many tourism businesses stay afloat and keep tourism workers in a job.

“It is great that Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan is here to listen to Whitsunday tourism operators as it’s critical the government understands their plight so we make sure future policies in this space are the right policies for the industry and local jobs,” the Dawson MP said.

On top of JobKeeper, the Federal Government launched the $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund and $100 million for tourism-related infrastructure through the Building Better Regions Fund.

It has also kicked off a $5 million advertising blitz to encourage Australians to book a domestic holiday this year to support local jobs and businesses.

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