Whitsunday tourism falls

The Whitsundays.
The Whitsundays. Tourism Queensland/Murray Waite & Assoc

WHITSUNDAY and Mackay tourism operators are feeling the effects of unprecedented flooding in Central Queensland as many holidaymakers cancel their plans to visit the regions.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Peter O’Reilly said caravan park operators and the youth backpacker market had been hardest hit since roads were cut due to widespread floodwaters.

“It’s obliterated the drive market,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“One caravan park had 200 cancellations.”

The good news is that flights in and out of the popular tourist spot had been quite full, Mr O’Reilly said.

The Airlie Beach Hotel had 170 room cancellations over the New Year’s period.

General manager Mark Bell said some people didn’t travel to the Whitsundays because the roads were flooded, while others were reluctant to come in case they couldn’t get home again.

Meanwhile, Mackay Tourism has launched the Mackay Summer Deals campaign to encourage more visitors to the region over the next couple of months.

Mackay Tourism general manager Dave Phillips said Mackay accommodation providers had been getting a lot of cancellations since the floods hit.

“People can’t get here, however, some people already here can’t move on,” Mr Phillips said.

Mr O’Reilly hopes the flood situation will ease by the end of the month.

He said Tourism Whitsundays was set to launch its first campaign with the new brand ‘The Whitsundays, 74 Island Wonders’ at the end of the month.

Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure special – to feature footage of the picturesque Whitsundays – will also hit television screens in the coming months and is expected to boost the region’s tourism.

“It’s one of the biggest tourism promotions, domestically, we’ve ever seen,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“We should do very well out of that.”

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