Unique tour given go-ahead after five-month closure
A unique tourist attraction will rely on local support more than ever when it reopens this weekend for the first time in five months.
Everglades Eco Safaris will resume day tours to the Noosa Everglades from Sunday, September 13 after its COVID Safe Plan was approved.
Managing director of Eco Qld, the tours' parent company, Wayne Poole said the business had lost tens of thousands of dollars while the tour was closed, due to ongoing maintenance costs.
Mr Poole said they would rely on locals and intrastate visitors to fill tour boats, with the usual international and interstate tours locked out.
"We need to remind people this is an amazing experience in their own backyard," Mr Poole said.
"I've been blessed to work with Irwin family, Disney and Warner Bros and I've travelled around … the thing about the everglades is it's still one of the top five things I've done."
It is one of two everglades in Australia and is home to more than 44 per cent of Australia's bird species.
Mr Poole said because the tour involved a bus, boat and time at the Noosa National Park, there were some challenges in developing a COVID Safe Plan.
Tours will be capped at 24 people, 60 per cent usual capacity, and the bus and boat will be cleaned regularly.
Chief skipper Trevor Sinclair, who has taken 500,000 visitors to the everglades during the past 40 years, will provide additional cleaning at the national park amenities where the tour stops.
"In my 40-plus year career, this is the longest period I've been away from the wheel of the vessel," Mr Sinclair said.
"Our staff are excited to be able to again take guests to one of the world's most unique natural destinations."
Buses are provided from Noosa to Habitat Noosa, the everglades ecocamp, where a boat leaves for the everglades.
Mr Poole said there was a need for a road map to reopen state borders, with his business and many others hopeful for a reopening before the Christmas school holidays.
But he recognised a cautious approach was needed to prevent an outbreak as seen in Victoria.
"(During the first wave) there was a lot more debate within the tourism sector around opening borders," he said.
"This time around I think there is a bit more support for this cautious approach.
"But if everything stays on track it would be great if they could be open for the Christmas school holidays, that tourism businesses in southeast Queensland place a very big financial dependency on.
"Our cashflow is propped up by school holidays … without those we won't be able to rebuild and recover."
Mr Poole said tours would run five days a week due to staff having reduced hours for JobKeeper.
He said during a recent visit to the area he was surprised by the new vegetation growth near Harry's Hut, which was severely burned during the November bushfires.