CQ tourism industry needs lifeline, MP says
WHILE the Queensland Governent tentatively reduces coronavirus constraints, Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar says tourism in Central and Western Queensland needs urgent support if it is to subsist in coming years.
“With a vaccine 12 months to two years away, it is clear we have to learn to live with COVID-19. Not having a plan is not an option,” he said.
“While we can’t open the border tomorrow, we need a COVID-19 management plan if we still want to have a multi-million dollar, outback tourism industry in 2021.”
Tourism restrictions will be relaxed in the Central Highlands this week, permitting recreational boating and visits to national parks, albeit with physical distancing rules still in place.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Central Highlands so far.
“Given that we have been in drought for eight years, and are still in drought, the biggest sacrifice was the cancellation of our winter tourism season at a moment’s notice,” Mr Millar said.
“It is just financial blow after financial blow. The outback economy is still in drought and certainly needs the jobs self-drive tourists bring. We should be putting in place a COVID-19 management plan for drive tourists now.
Mr Millar suggested that caravan and motorhome owners could be asked to complete a 14-day quarantine at a Queensland caravan park after crossing state borders. They could then proceed with their holiday on the condition that they stayed in commercial caravan parks rather than free-camping in the bush or country towns.
“If visitors are registered as guests at a caravan park they can be readily traced, if necessary,” he said.
“I want to ensure we have our tourism industry when we get to the other side of coronavirus.”
Central Highlands Development Corporation tourism development coordinator Paul Thompson said that allowing people more outdoor freedom was “a positive thing”, but that demand for tourism-focused activities was still low.
“Tourism in the Central Highlands would welcome any initiatives to get it going,” he said.
“It’s up to the businesses themselves wanting to do that. A lot of them are waiting for the time when they can open and are re-jigging how they operate.
“The trouble at the moment is with so little demand, it’s hard for some businesses to justify opening.”
Mr Thompson said the easing of restrictions would at least boost personal and business morale.
“The end is in sight,” he said.