GOVERNMENTS PLEDGE FUNDS
THE Whitsunday tourism industry is set to receive the lion’s share of a $10 million funding package announced jointly by the federal and state governments in Airlie Beach on Tuesday.
Federal Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo was first to announce the funding at a press conference held at the Cruise Whitsundays ferry terminal.
Mr Ciobo said he was in the Whitsundays at the request of Dawson MP George Christensen “to reinforce the ongoing commitment of the Turnbull Government to helping this region get back on its feet”.
“Tourism in the Whitsundays is one of the lifeblood industries. It employs around 10,000 people across the Whitsundays – iconic locations like Airlie Beach, like Whitehaven, like Hamilton island – these are destinations that many Australians and indeed many international tourists know. We want Australia and the world to know the Whitsundays is open for business. We want them to come here for their Easter holidays, come for their winter holidays,” he said.
Mr Ciobo went on to say how as “a strong show of support” the Federal Government would be providing a number of financial assistance programs, totalling $5 million, which he expected the State Government to match.
He explained the funding from Tourism Australia would pass to Tourism Queensland and said he had “no doubt” the Queensland Government would be responsive to calls from Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox and Tourism Whitsundays to focus money on the region.
“Ultimately, the way in which the funding works is directed by the Queensland State Government but having spoken to Queensland (Tourism) Minister, and having reinforced that from my perspective this is money to help the most adversely affected region, which is the Whitsundays, I’ve got no doubt the Queensland Government will step up to the plate – but you’ll be able to ask those questions directly of the State minister,” he told the media gathered on site.
Just a couple of minutes later that’s exactly what the waiting journalists were able to do, as state Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk arrived.
Premier Palaszczuk promised her Government would pledge the same amount as the Federal Government “to really give tourism that extra boost that they need”.
“Today the Federal Government has committed $5 million and we will match that dollar for dollar to ensure that tourism across our state that has been severely impacted can get back on its feet,” she said.
“Our campaign is dedicated to encouraging more people to come here to the beautiful Whitsundays and my message to Australia today is the Whitsundays is open for business.
“Look how beautiful this place is. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
And there was no case for “do as I say, not as I do”, with the Premier and Ms Jones leading by example.
“We want to see people continue with their holidays and I know my Minister for Tourism Kate Jones is bringing her family up here to this beautiful part of the region for Easter,” Premier Palaszczuk said, adding, “and I’m intending to come here in just over a month’s time to spend some time as well here.”
ABOVE: Federal Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo surveys the Hamilton Island Marina post-clean-up.
INSET: Tourism Minister Kate Jones, Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Airlie Beach.