Habitat Noosa in more settled times.
Habitat Noosa in more settled times.

Viral business climate devastates Habitat Noosa - 72 staff laid off

WHILE Noosa’s coronavirus battered tourism and business sector endures an Easter from hell, one of its nationally recognised tourist operators is at his wit’s end fighting to stay financially afloat.

Wade Batty of Habitat Noosa glamping experience at Elanda Point on Lake Cootharaba should preparing to welcome the world to his stunning piece of paradise.

CLARIFICATION: In an earlier online version it was mentioned that Mr Batty still operated the Discovery Group Noosa tours that includes the Noosa Everglades. However he sold this business to Imperium Tourism Holdings in May last year and is not connected to that operation.

Before COVID-19 hit hard, Habitat Noosa was fully booked over the Easter break.

Wade Batty of Habitat Noosa accepts his national tourism award.
Wade Batty of Habitat Noosa accepts his national tourism award.

“We already were booked out for two weeks over Easter so we’ve had to refund hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mr Batty said.

“Seventy-two staff have been laid off and we’ve got no business – zero.

“We’ve been shut down everywhere, all our bars, our brewery our campground, the backpacker bar,” he said.

Mr Batty said his group’s occupancy rate was almost 80 percent all year round under normal trading circumstances.

“This is such a disaster. We’re in the middle of trying to work out (how to move forward), but it will be very difficult.

“We just won the best tourism business in Australia a week before we started getting shut down, so it’s absolutely devastating for us. I just can’t believe it.

“I’m sitting here trawling through spread sheets and trying to work out how to survive.”

Mr Batty said he was left with himself and a general manager on a stripped down salary to assist him tidy up all the refunds.

Mr Batty has been in business for 17 years and never faced anything close to the challenges ahead. He said even if the coronavirus restrictions were lifted tomorrow, it would “take an eternity for the distribution networks to open up again”.

“And domestically, no one is going to have any money, that’s going to be the biggest issue, the last thing you do is travel.”

He said the core part of their business is the international backpacker market.

“It’s 90 per cent of our business - they’re generally resilient, but how long are the travel restrictions going to last?” Mr Batty said.

“It’s a disaster and very annoying. This is through no fault of our own.”

He said another big hit for Habitat Noosa was the outdoor education component with school groups.

“That’s been really strong and starting to grow ... now the schools are pulling out,” Mr Batty said.


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