First guests with open arms

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

in now,” he said.

“We’ll be at 80% oc­cu­pancy within the next 10 days and we’re very pleased with that as an out­come.

“And we have beau­ti­ful days like to­day where the weather’s fine and the beaches are great and we have peo­ple stand-up-pad­dle board­ing and sail­ing boats out in Cat­s­eye Bay, and we’re open for busi­ness.”

Mr Bourke said it was vi­tal for the is­land to be up and run­ning for Easter “be­cause we had mas­sive for­ward book­ings”.

“We were at 97% for Easter and there were a lot of peo­ple who were look­ing for­ward to a hol­i­day here,” he said.

“There was a ques­tion mark in their minds over whether we’d be ready or not so we went out to them and said ‘we will’ and we are.

“It was re­ally im­por­tant if we wanted to save the staff we have here, to keep every­body em­ployed and keep op­er­at­ing a busi­ness.

“It was im­por­tant for us to be fast, to get things done to get our­selves back on our feet and I’m re­ally pleased with the ef­fort every­body’s put in to make that hap­pen.”

Mr Bourke said other than a few can­cel­la­tions most book­ings had been hon­oured and there were many re­turn guests.

He also paid trib­ute to the po­lice for their help in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math, the State and Fed­eral

Gov­ern­ments for get­ting be­hind the Whit­sun­days, and the air­lines, with­out whom Hamilton Is­land would not en­joy the ease of ac­cess it did, he said.

“And the in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, strangely enough, they’ve come to the party and helped us out.

“They’ve had their as­ses­sors here in­stan­ta­neously and they’ve given us a funding pool to pull from to get us back on our feet,”Mr Bourke said.

Mr Bourke also praised the is­land’s res­i­dents who stood shoul­der to shoul­der with the staff.

“They have done an enor­mous job,” he said.

“Peo­ple who wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be out in the field, do­ing gar­den­ing jobs and clean up jobs and things like that, they’ve pro­vided us with the mo­men­tum to re­ally fix Hamilton Is­land up.”

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

FAST TURN­AROUND: Fed­eral Tourism Min­is­ter Steven Ciobo, Mem­ber for Daw­son Ge­orge Chris­tensen and Hamilton Is­land chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Glenn Bourke sur­vey­ing the view over Cat­s­eye Bay post the Cy­clone Deb­bie clean-up.

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