Queensland’s plan to boost travel to Cairns and Great Barrier Reef

One peak body says the program should be extended to support more businesses.

The Queensland Government has launched a new initiative to lure more domestic travellers to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

This week, travellers can enter the draw to secure one of 15,000 travel vouchers to spend on tourism experiences when they holiday in the region over the next four months.

The vouchers cover 50 per cent of the cost of the experience, up to $200.

“It’s the first time in Queensland that a government has offered vouchers to bolster and support the tourism industry,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“But these are extraordinary times and Tropical North Queensland tourism operators have done it very tough over the last twelve months.

“It’s expected the initiative could generate an extra visitor spend of up to $14 million for the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef economy.”

The vouchers are hoped to aid tourism operators who have struggled with the loss of international arrivals due to COVID-19.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 800,000 overseas visitors had landed in Cairns every year and contributed more than $1 billion to the region’s economy,” said Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

If the initiative is successful, the government plans to roll out the program across the Gold Coast, the Whitsundays and Brisbane.

Peak body wants accommodation included

While the vouchers can be used for trips to the Great Barrier Reef, guided tours, day spas and entry to wildlife parks, zoos and aquariums, they can not be used on accommodation.

Peak industry body the Accommodation Association has urged the government to extend the initiative to the accommodation sector.

Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long said while the industry welcomes the initiative, the region’s hotels and motels are desperate for support.

“Without financial support and economic stimulus measures, however our sector is struggling and will continue to struggle,” he said.

“Similar campaigns in other states have worked well and we desperately need ongoing support to keep the sector alive.

“With JobKeeper coming to an end, and with no end to the ban on international travel in sight, we are grateful for initiatives like the Cairns Holiday Dollars program and we welcome the planned extension of the campaign to other parts of Queensland but we need it to also cover accommodation.”

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