‘Vacate the isolate’: Tourism operators hit the water again
ONE of the first day-tour operators to return to the water, Ocean Rafting has this week relaunched its operations and is able to resume its iconic trips back to the Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach.
With travel restrictions further eased around the state on Monday, unlimited travel and overnight stays are now allowed again.
Ocean Rafting Owner Jan Claxton said the team was ready to "vacate the isolate".
"And the volume of inquiries and bookings we received after the announcement, reflected people's desire to get back to some sort of normalcy and enjoy a day out on the water."
Ms Claxton said she was ensuring that COVID-19 health and safety regulations were met with an adapted operational system in place including pre-screening, social distancing, staff training, reduced passenger numbers, enhanced hygiene and cleaning, and changes to the serving and supply of lunch.
She said more than 80% of staff remained employed, which had also meant operations were able to start up again immediately.
"During the downtime, we have kept many of our staff employed which allowed us to continue with a range of initiatives including maintenance, marketing activities, training, cleaning and continuing with our Eye on The Reef monitoring.
"We are very lucky our team were able to adapt to various roles within the company, which meant we didn't need to put off any of our long-term staff.
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"We are beyond excited that people are now able to travel, albeit still with restrictions in place, but this means our fellow tourism partners, including accommodation houses, experiences, dining and retail, can return to some form of normality and this will then flow through to our entire community."
Ms Claxton said Ocean Rafting had recently launched its 'Rafting Squad' initiative providing local and regional members from Mackay to Townsville and west to Moranbah access to specials.
The year-round deal, she said, included 20% off Ocean Rafting products for a member and three friends, as well as a free birthday tour and a 20% off year-round discount also redeemable for Ocean Rafting's sister company, Ocean Safari, for locals travelling north to Tropical North Queensland.
"The local and regional market has always been hugely important to us and although we were planning to launch the Rafting Squad last year, the time was right to say thank you to our local and regional friends now, particularly as their original holiday plans may have changed."
Ocean Rafting operates two day-tour options - the Northern Exposure and Southern Lights tours take people to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet to explore the snorkelling reefs and guided Whitsunday Island National Parks walks.
Ocean Rafting has special permits allowing access to Hill Inlet beach itself, and is the only operator offering lunch and time to relax.
Ocean Rafting also operates scenic flights and Fly & Raft packages.
For 'Rafting Squad" information check www.oceanrafting.com.au/raftingsquad. and check their promotions by joining the Rafting/Safari Squad Members Facebook group