There are jobs going in some of Australia’s most sought-after holiday spots as Queensland plans for the future of its tourism industry with the JobKeeper cut-off date approaching.
Speaking from Port Douglas in the state’s tropical far north on Thursday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk encouraged prospective workers around Australia to consider a move to ‘paradise’.
“If you are anywhere else in Queensland (or) Australia and you’re thinking about moving for work, I don’t think there’s a better place than Port Douglas,” she said.
After meeting with local operators Ms Palaszczuk said the state’s tourist voucher program was “very well received” and more staff were needed in the region.
The government is in the process of drawing up plans for the tourism sector to recover “beyond 2021”.
The $25.5 billion industry, which employs 234,000 Queenslanders, is facing a depression when JobKeeper ends later this month.
“It’s 10 days until the end of JobKeeper, this is a really serious issue for our tourism industry,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Once again I am still calling on the federal government to have more targeted support.”
Many tourism operators, particularly those dependent on international visitors, expect to go under.
Both the state and federal governments have announced stimulus measures but the state is concerned they won’t make up for the loss of federal wage subsidies.
Ms Palaszczuk has appointed a tourism industry panel to make recommendations about how the sector can recover after this year.
“Thanks to the way Queenslanders have responded to this pandemic, our economy is in better shape than others throughout the country and throughout the world,” she said.
“We have a great opportunity to build back better. That’s what this is all about.”
Aviation guru Liz Savage will lead the panel, which will include former Tourism Australia chief executive Andrew McEvoy and Tourism and Events Queensland chair Brett Godfrey.
It will look at increasing the state’s share of international students, rebuilding airline capacity and hosting events in regional areas visited by road.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe says the recommendations will mainly be about the recovery after this year rather than the next few months.
“With vaccines being rolled out in Australia and around the world, the panel will work with industry on a considered and thorough plan for Queensland tourism beyond 2021,” he said.
The Queensland government announced on Wednesday it would continue to waive Cairns Marina fees for Great Barrier Reef operators.
It’s also offering $200 tourism experience vouchers for state residents and $150 to students to visit the reef.
Mr Hinchliffe said on Wednesday 15,000 tourism experience vouchers had been awarded to 106,000 applicants, with 160 already redeemed.