SHUT OUT: Tourism operators battle for survival
Devastating – that is the only way Noosaville Business Association president Joel Laventure can describe the latest Queensland border lockdown.
“The last school holidays I think when one of them was shut, we were down in terms of accommodation maybe 25-30 per cent capacity when normally it would be 100 per cent,” Mr Laventure said.
“That comes from Victoria and New South Wales.
“I know it’s necessary, but it’s just devastating.”
He said it was a particularly harsh blow considering it had come in the lead up to the September school holidays and the Noosa Triathlon.
His group is also trying to prepare its members for a likely coronavirus breakout in Queensland.
“For us the really important thing is to get the message home we expect it’s when, not if it’s going to happen and how we can be best prepared for an outbreak,” Mr Laventure said.
“We need to isolate it, get it dealt with as quickly as possible and then limit the spread.
“To think that it’s not going to happen is a little naive.”
He said Noosaville businesses were worried, but they also understood the unprecedented circumstances.
“You certainly don’t want a Melbourne situation, but at the same time if you go the other extreme where you’ve got no cases, but you’ve got no business or no economy, then we’re all damaged long-term,” Mr Laventure said.
“It’s good (the border closure) in terms of long term health, but it’s just our way of life really that people are worried about.
“We’ve already some businesses going out of business … JobKeeper is kicking in terms of tightening up and reducing in September … that’s going to be a big thing to watch,” he said.
Noosaville’s James Howard-Clarke of Noosa Stand Up Paddle said most of his business at this time of year would be international and interstate tourists as he was barely surviving on 20 per cent of his normal turnover.
“International tourists make up probably 70 per cent of our business this time of the year,” Mr Howard-Clarke said.
“Because it’s a bit cooler we don’t get really any locals that keen, but also the school groups seem to be going ahead and that’s a big part of our business in these last two terms.
“That will keep us alive.
“We’re were hoping for a strong domestic demand here, but obviously that looks like it’s not going to happen.”
Under normal trading conditions he would be employing three staff but they do not qualify for JobKeeper as they are contract workers.
“They do other things, it’s not as though it’s full time for them,” he said.
Today he had two board hires with social distancing for the day and “literally that’s it.”
Mr Howard-Clarke said the closures was not what he wanted but realised Queensland needed to adopt a “safety first” approach.
Tourism Noosa CEO Melanie Anderson told members this week with Queensland closing its borders to NSW and the ACT from this Saturday her promotional group would be refocusing its marketing efforts from a new Enter the Biosphere campaign to the drive market.
“With the outbreak of community transmission in Victoria, New South Wales and now in Queensland, it is so critical that we as an industry, and a region, uphold the highest levels of safety to protect ourselves, our community and our visitors,” Ms Anderson said.
“I wish that our country was in a better situation than what we are currently faced with, and it is fair to say that the coming weeks will be very challenging for all of us, particularly Victorians.
“The impacts of border closures are challenging for so many of our businesses in Noosa and we are all looking forward to welcoming our interstate visitors back when we can.”
She said it was reassuring that Noosa was still attracting so many visitors during the school holidays and at weekends, but the midweek lower occupancy rates were something Tourism Noosa needed to continue to work on.
Ms Anderson said last week Noosa Tourism gave the whole of Australia “plenty to dream about as we hosted the Today Show weather crosses”.