BRISBANE, Australia — Australia’s northeastern state, Queensland, is rolling out the red carpet to tourists from Covid-19-free states and territories in a bid to breathe life into its ailing tourism sector.
The Sunshine State, Queensland, has AU$380 million ($283.3 million) worth significant events planned for the second half of 2021, including a cycling festival, an outback golf tournament, and the TV WEEK Logie Awards.
The events are expected to inject millions of dollars into local businesses and support jobs as they draw visitors around the state.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the events’ list, including the Gold Coast 500 Supercars race, shows Queensland’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan is working.
“We are encouraging Aussies, particularly from Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, to book holidays in Queensland and support our tourism businesses that have done it tough throughout the pandemic,” she said.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the closure of Australia’s international border during the pandemic had blown an AU$6 billion ($4.5 billion) hole in the state’s visitor economy.
“I appreciate the many challenges the global pandemic has created for Queensland tourism operators,” he said.
“Events encourage Queenslanders and interstate visitors to explore our regions and spend with local businesses, from accommodation providers and restaurants to tourism operators with unique holiday experiences.”
The “Live! In Queensland” campaign is expected to return 76 percent more to the visitor economy in the second half of 2021 than the AU$215 million ($160.3 million) it did in the first six months of the year.
Meanwhile, the release of 38,000 more Holiday Dollars vouchers is expected to boost the tourism industry’s recovery further.
The extra vouchers requested by tourism operators will be released in Southeast Queensland, with 10,000 more vouchers available on the Gold Coast and 19,000 more in Brisbane, each valued at AU$100 ($74.5).
“Already, more than AU$7 million ($5.22) worth of bookings have been made in areas where the schemes been rolled out for holidaymakers,” said Palaszczuk.
In Cairns, 9000 visitors will be given AU$200 ($149.1) Holiday Dollars when they arrive at Cairns Airport.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the program would help destinations that had lost significant numbers of international visitors to the pandemic.
“When tourism is doing well, whole regions do well,” he said.
The government estimated that for each dollar given away in Holiday Dollars, AU$2.57 ($1.92) is spent with tourism operators and local economies.
“We have also noticed visitors with vouchers tend to spend more like international tourists by upgrading to premium experiences on reef tours or whale watching boats,” said Hinchliffe.
International arrivals decreased since February 2020, falling 26 percent below February’s 2019’s total. Foreign arrivals from March 2019 to March 2020 show a drop of 60 percent.
The largest decrease was in visitors from China, Japan, and Malaysia.
(Edited by Amrita Das and Saptak Datta)
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