First guests with open arms
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.”
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.