BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort had 140 online inquiries the morning after eased restrictions were announced. Picture: BIG4
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort had 140 online inquiries the morning after eased restrictions were announced. Picture: BIG4

Whitsundays rolls out welcome mat

THE phones have been ringing off the hook for hotels and caravan parks in Airlie Beach as travellers across the state gear up for a long overdue getaway.

On Sunday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Queenslanders were free to holiday in their own state.

Managing director of at Hotel Group Jeff Aquilina said on the evening of the announcement, the group saw a 475 per cent increase in bookings from the previous day.

"We've had an outstanding result since restrictions were eased," he said.

"I'm surprised at how quickly the conversion was. I suspect a lot of people have been in the dreaming phase for quite a few weeks and with the announcement they just jumped on.

"We don't have to convince and lobby people to come, they're already desperate."

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said he had also been run off his feet since the announcement.

"We woke up (on Monday) to 140 internet inquiries ... that's a lot for just overnight," he said.

"(Yesterday) we had four girls on the phone taking phone call after phone call.

"Things are moving and it's not just for this weekend, it's for up to Christmas."

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said the flow-on effects of eased travel restrictions would benefit every sector in the region. Picture: BIG4
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon said the flow-on effects of eased travel restrictions would benefit every sector in the region. Picture: BIG4

Mr McKinnon said travellers from southern states would be missed in what was typically a key time for the interstate market chasing warmer weather.

However, he was hopeful that people from across Queensland would support regional centres such as Airlie Beach to help accommodation owners because this would benefit the whole area.

"The accommodation sector has to be there to support people wanting to have downtime. That's where it all starts and then we send them out to restaurants, cafes, bookstores and butchers," he said.

"Tourism operators absolutely survive off people staying in the area. If all the accommodation filled up, the rest (of town) would be booming and money would start circulating.

"The tradies would get requests to fix things, painters would paint things when there's issues, car places would get people from out of town, it goes right through everywhere.

"In this town, every cent filtered through is in tourism."

Mr Aquilina also called for the region to rally together to help boost the local economy and said once tourists started arriving, it was vital for other services to help show off the region as a world-class destination.

"From what the (booking) teams have told me, the most common question is around what's open in Airlie Beach," he said.

"It's important that everyone, big or small businesses, are letting people out there know that they're open.

"It's a combination of what everyone offers that motivates people to come."