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South-East Queensland tourism boosted by moving Ekka public holiday
Encouraged by the tourism industry, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has advised that the People's Day public holiday in Brisbane is to be held on Friday, 14th August instead of the traditional Wednesday to help tourism operators as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Premier Palaszczuk said it would be a one-off move and noted "People's Day will become People's Long Weekend and we do this with the support of the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association (RNA) of Queensland.
The new public holiday on Friday 14th August is for people living in Brisbane, Weipa, Rockhampton, Livingstone, Mackay, Gold Coast, Logan, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Cloncurry and Whitsunday (for the Bowen area only) council areas.
RNA President, David Thomas supported the change, with the Ekka being cancelled for only the third time in its 144-year history and adds "the RNA fully supports moving the traditional Ekka Show Day holiday this year to create a one-off long weekend in a show of support for our tourism industry.
"In these difficult times we support the date of the Show Holiday being changed.
"Since we cannot have the Ekka as we usually do, it is wonderful that People's Day can help our fellow Queenslanders across our rural, regional, and coastal tourism areas."
Premier Palaszczuk advises "this year I call on everyone from the city to go to the bush, go to the beach, or have a break and support our tourism industry.
"Local councils outside of Brisbane will be able to make similar arrangements for their show holidays.
"If we can't have sample bags we should pack our travel bags to enjoy this one-off holiday to support our local businesses."
South-east Queensland regions including the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Southern Queensland country are all reporting near full capacity bookings as a result of moving the traditional Ekka public holiday to next Friday 14th August and with Queenslanders embracing the State’s new Good to Go campaign.
Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive, Leanne Coddington notes the Good to Go campaign had been positively received and adds “our goal remains to generated $1billion in overnight visitor expenditure and nine million room nights in the September quarter, so these very positive reports of strong booking numbers are certainly welcomed.”
Visit Sunshine Coast Interim Chief Executive Craig Davidson said the Brisbane drive market is continuing to support the Sunshine Coast tourism industry.
“With the Ekka People’s Day moving to a Friday, it has allowed Brisbanites to take advantage of a long weekend.
“Pleasingly our operators are reporting solid bookings for the weekend, however it is not too late to book as there continues to be some availability, largely as a result of Sydney cancellations.
“Brisbane is the bread and butter market for the Sunshine Coast and to the year ending March 2020, 1.7 million Brisbane residents visited the Sunshine Coast for an overnight stay.
“The Sunshine Coast tourism industry is reliant on Brisbane to continue to support our recovery.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said shifting the holiday and creating a new long weekend in south east Queensland was aimed at helping tourism operators as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Premier Palaszczuk notes “these long weekends pump millions of dollars into our economy. By giving Queenslanders an extended break over the Ekka weekend, more, much needed cash is being injected into thousands of struggling tourism businesses.
“The current feedback on holiday bookings we are getting from operators is just what we wanted to hear.
“Reports from the Sunshine Coast are that finding accommodation is becoming increasingly hard, while on the Fraser Coast many operators, including the whale fleet, are reporting they are near capacity.
“On the Granite Belt it’s a similar story with operators delighted at the strong forward bookings, not only for the long weekend but through to the September school holidays.
“What this shows is our Good to Go campaign has really hit the right chord with Queenslanders who have never been happier to get out and explore their state.
“It’s also not too late to book, but the clear message from industry is to do it quickly.”
Tourism Minister Kate Jones adds “the strong resurgence in outback tourism comes after the Premier’s Year of Outback Tourism promotion saw more than a million visitors travel to the west for the very first time in 2019.
“Now with intrastate travel restrictions freed up for Queenslanders, the west and the outback are yet again proving to be very popular destinations.
“As our tourism industry recovers, we’ll see more and more jobs created in this sector, particularly in regional Queensland.”
Longreach Mayor Tony Rayner said “attracting experienced and enthusiastic workers to all of the council areas involved in the Western Queensland Alliance of Councils was a major issue discussed at a recent round-table meeting held in the town.
“All industries from agricultural, retail, hospitality and tourism have immediate job opportunities.”
Blackall-Tambo Mayor Andrew Martin, who is Chair of Outback Queensland Tourism Association, reinforced that operators can increase tours and accommodation options if more staff can be attracted across the regions.
“We welcome visitors to stay another night in all our regions, sampling our big warm welcome.”
Outback Queensland Tourism Association Chief Executive, Denise Brown said new job openings were good news for tourism adding “Tourism operators have a need for all manner of workers, supervisors and managers for the next three months of the season.
“We’re missing the traditional workforce provided by international backpackers and encourage job-seekers to check out the online job sites for immediate opportunities.”
Southern Queensland Country Tourism Chief Executive Peter Homan said the long weekend would be a huge boost to the industry.
“Tourism operators across the Southern Queensland Country region are already booked out for the long weekend, with areas including the Granite Belt, Bunya Mountains and much of Toowoomba showing bookings that exceed the same period for last year.
“Enquiries at caravan parks across the region have also been strong as travellers take advantage of an extended weekend in our beautiful part of Queensland.”
Fraser Coast Tourism and Events Chief Executive Martin Simons said bookings across Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and Lady Elliot showed that engaging with nature, whales and uncrowded beaches was meeting the needs of people looking for a safe haven in the COVID-impacted world.
“We are within three to four hours of 70 per cent of Queensland’s population living in the south-east corner and a great place to reboot after the journey we have all been on.”
Tangalooma Island Resort’s Bernie O’Keefe said forward bookings were strong.
“It’s been heartening to see the levels of support Queensland-owned tourism businesses like ours have been getting from locals keen to dive-in to the incredible destinations we have right here in our backyard.
“The special August long weekend has proved to be very popular at Tangalooma, and we have been inundated with bookings from locals looking to escape the crowds for an extended break upon our wide golden beaches.
“While availability for the long weekend is approaching capacity, savvy locals who book directly with the Resort, can still score themselves some amazing discounts in the weeks and months ahead.”
7th April 2020 - RNA announces cancellation of Brisbane’s Ekka
14th January 2020 - South East Queensland tourism strategy announced
6th September 2018 - Australia’s longest rail trail to boost South East Queensland tourism
16th July 2020 - Queensland Government ends Cairns Global Tourism Hub process
17th June 2020 - Queensland Government approves return of fans to stadiums
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