Travel at Easter to save tourist industry

Darren Cartwright
Queensland families are being asked to holiday within the state this Easter to save businesses

Families are being urged to not be frightened off by coronavirus outbreak and holiday locally this Easter because businesses will collapse without their support.

Queensland's Tourism Minister Kate Jones's plea has been echoed by local tourism bodies across the state who are fighting to keep businesses from going under and ultimately save jobs.

Ms Jones says the tourism sector is already struggling and while people are being told not to travel abroad, they should certainly keep their local holiday plans and not cancel bookings.

"Misinformation is a big threat to our tourism industry. If people stay at home over Easter, it will cruel local businesses," she told AAP.

"We're urging people to holiday at home. Come to Queensland and support local businesses doing it tough. Business owners across the state need your help."

It was only three weeks ago that caravan park operators and holiday providers were reporting strong bookings for the Easter and school holidays period said Queensland Tourism Industry Council boss Daniel Geschwind.

That has been turned on its head in recent days.

"People's travelling horizon is rapidly shrinking and effectively we are down to the drive market and day trip scenarios," he said.

"The pain and hurt are intense in hospitality and tourism and this not some abstract thing, this is reality and it translates into lost employment and lost incomes and it becomes a vicious cycle."

Destination Gold Coast CEO, Annaliese Battista said health and safety for all residents and tourists were paramount but they remained very much "open for business".

She said consumer confidence had taken a hit and holidaymakers may still be undecided or reluctant to leave home.

But she encouraged them to come and play.

"Encouraging Australians to holiday in the nation's favourite playground this year is vital," she said.

"We are currently marketing to Sydney, Melbourne and the Brisbane drive market to come and play on the Gold Coast this Easter and beyond."

The pleas for tourists extended north where Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen who effectively called upon locals to rise and be counted this Easter holidays.

He said the industry was on their knees and one in five jobs relies on holidaymakers and international tourists to the area will all but cease soon.

"We are open for business and encouraging locals to visit ... and we are launching our drive North Queensland website and encourage people to get out and explore."

He said there had been a significant impact because of cruise line cancellations including 19 of 38 in the region which had been scheduled to stop at Cairns.

"That's a significant impact combined with the impact on outdoor and indoor events and the visitation downturn we will see a downturn of a billion dollars worth of expenditure."