17 Mar | '2021
Off the topic that I’m about to talk about, which is tourism on the Gold Coast, I would actually like to commend the Brisbane City Council and Lord Mayor Adrian Shreiner for the great work that they do in Queensland for the local economy and across many other sustainable, green measures and all kinds of other measures that the Brisbane City Council are putting in place in Queensland.
The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector on the Gold Coast has been dire, including for accommodation providers. For example, the Q1, Queensland’s tallest residential building, which is in the heart of Moncrieff, was down 95 per cent occupancy when COVID-19 hit. That is devastating—and it has been devastating for many, many, tourism operators on the Gold Coast. It has been devastating particularly for those businesses that rely on international business—those small mum and dad businesses who employ perhaps four or five people. JobKeeper has been holding all of that together on the Gold Coast.
As we know, JobKeeper will step down at the end of this month. So, just over a month ago, I organised a roundtable event at the Star Gold Coast, where Minister Robert and Minister Andrews and I gathered with Minister Tehan to talk about what we could do to assist tourism operators and associated industries on the Gold Coast. At that roundtable, the key message that came out of the stakeholders was: ‘We need certainty around the border. Borders opening and closing does irreparable damage to local business. We need certainty and we need bums on seats. We need people to come back to our businesses.’ Minister Tehan and the ministers present listened, and we heard last week the announcement of a $1.2 billion tourism package and 800,000 half-price tickets—which the federal government is assisting with—to 15 destinations, including the Gold Coast. That extra support will definitely help our region and 14 other regions around the country that are reliant on tourism.
We know that we will lose some jobs at the end of the month. But other jobs will come online. There will be jobs where there is demand. There are new businesses popping up. Unfortunately, there are some businesses closing across the coast, but we are seeing new shoots come through and we are seeing the economy start to recover. So we need that border open, we need the COVID vaccine rolled out, and we need to get back to business.