Tourism’s hard line de­liv­ered to Joyce

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

TOURISM Whit­sun­days CEO Craig Turner took a hard line when the act­ing Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce vis­ited the re­gion on Satur­day in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie.

From the out­set of the meet­ing with the Whit­sun­day Cham­ber of Com­merce, Mr Turner drilled home the im­por­tance of the Whit­sun­days be­ing open for busi­ness and the role tourism plays in the Whit­sun­day econ­omy.

Mr Joyce asked what the Whit­sun­days needed from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

To which Mr Turner out­lined a mar­ket­ing strat­egy which would re­shape the pub­lic per­cep­tion of the Whit­sun­days af­ter the touch-down of Deb­bie and he also flagged in­vest­ment in road in­fra­struc­ture.

“Yes we got af­fected but once the power comes back on on Mon­day we are open for busi­ness,” he said.

“We need the mes­sage to be, we are ready to go... we need peo­ple here next week. Not in four months’ time.”

Mr Turner stated the do­mes­tic mar­ket made up 68% of visi­tor num­bers and the lo­cal mar­ket needed to be the fo­cus of the cam­paign.

Con­cerns were raised that the new flights en­ter­ing the Whit­sun­days from Syd­ney and Mel­bourne – which be­gan just days be­fore Cy­clone Deb­bie – would be can­celled if pas­sen­ger num­bers weren’t suf­fi­cient.

A fig­ure of up to $5 mil­lion for pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing was pitched by Mr Turner.

“But it needs to be a long-arm ap­proach. It can’t be a shot in the arm and it stops. It needs to be a 12-month cam­paign in which we ac­tu­ally drive vis­i­ta­tion,” the TW CEO said.

Op­po­si­tion leader Tim Ni­cholls asked if vis­i­tors com­ing to the Whit­sun­days so soon af­ter the touch-down of a Cat­e­gory Four cy­clone would have a “lesser ex­pe­ri­ence”.

“No, they will not. We who live here know what it looked like prior, we have our own ref­er­ence point, we know what it was like,” Mr Turner said.

Mr Turner as­sured Mr Joyce, Mr Ni­cholls, and Fed­eral Mem­ber for Daw­son, Ge­orge Chris­tensen, that there were more than 1000 beds avail­able in the Whit­sun­days.

But right now many ho­tels are hous­ing emer­gency ser­vices work­ers and Ergon En­ergy crews.

Mr Turner said mov­ing work­ers to Bowen and ask­ing them to commute an hour each way would free up more beds for hol­i­day­ing guests.

Talk then shifted to lack­ing in­fra­struc­ture which in Jan­uary was re­spon­si­ble for trap­ping tourists when Hamilton Plains, Crofton and Myr­tle Creeks left Air­lie Beach and Can­non­vale com­pletely cut off from the Bruce Hwy.

Af­ter Deb­bie, for the same rea­son, many had to wait for two days be­fore out­side help could make it through.

PHO­TOS: PETER CARRUTHERS

TOURISM TALKS: Mem­bers of the Whit­sun­day Cham­ber of Com­merce meet with act­ing Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce, leader of the op­po­si­tion Tim Ni­cholls, mem­ber for Whit­sun­day Ja­son Costi­gan and mem­ber for Daw­son Ge­orge Chris­tensen at the Co­ral Sea Re­sort in Air­lie Beach.

Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce and Tourism Whit­sun­day CEO Craig Turner at the Co­ral Sea Re­sort.

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