Entsch delivers and FNQ will benefit


Howard Salkow

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Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, announces tourism campaign which is hoped will benefit FNQ. Image: Newsport.

The Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, has slammed three Queensland State Labor MPs for leveraging the pain felt by the tourism and business industries for their own political gain.

His remarks follow the announcement that the Coalition Government will invest $25 million towards a dedicated international tourism campaign that will have a significant FNQ and Queensland focus.

This also comes after Michael Healy (Member for Cairns), Craig Crawford (Barron River) and Cynthia Lui (Cook), called on Mr Entsch to secure funding for small businesses affected by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Some of the measures called for by the Labor members included:

• Immediate assistance of $2000 for affected small businesses at risk of closure;
• Expanding marketing campaigns, particularly in the Chinese market, for international students and tourism (once borders are open); and
• A China exports grants scheme (once borders are open).

The three MPs said this presents a test for the Member for Leichhardt on whether he can walk the walk, and small businesses were ready to give him an ‘F’ if he failed to deliver.

“Firstly, it is utterly disgusting and reprehensible that under-performing State Labor MPs Michael Healy, Craig Crawford and Cynthia Lui attempted to leverage the pain being felt by an entire industry for their own political gain. For that, they need to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

“However, the Far North Queensland businesses and tourism sectors told me in no uncertain terms they needed feet back on the ground and specifically asked for a dedicated international marketing campaign. We have listened and we have acted,” said Mr Entsch.

He said the international marketing campaign will highlight what is great about our nation: lifestyle, character and our natural assets such as the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and the wilderness of Cape York.

This investment is part of a wider $76 million national tourism package and the campaign is in direct response to the coronavirus outbreak. It is about getting Australia back into the market quickly, re-stimulating demand and driving bookings.

Tourism Australia has also partnered with Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Air Asia X, Malaysian Airlines, Trailfinders, Flight Centre, Thomas Cook and Chan Brothers who will also contribute financially towards this campaign.

The total investment for this phase of the international tourism campaign will be $40 million.

The campaign will extensively feature Far North Queensland icons (Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and Cape York) as well as promoting travel packages to Queensland.

This campaign will start on Monday 2 March and run until June. International target markets for this campaign include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and UK.

The Federal Government will also invest $9.5 million to bring international media outlets, leading international television shows and print media to Australia.

The main objective of this investment is to conduct industry familiarisation visits to experience firsthand the fact that the majority of Australia is unaffected by fires and open for business, and create urgency among key markets to visit Australia now.

But, in the latest issue of AccomNews, David Sheldon, a former chair of the Australian Regional Tourism Network, says tourism needs to stop relying on handouts and start doing its own heavy lifting.

Sheldon has questioned the “grit” of the industry in the wake of bushfires which decimated parts of NSW and Victoria and left numerous operators with minimal income over summer and a dearth of forward bookings.

“If the Tourism Industry is to live up to the forecasts of being one of the national top five super industries by 2030, the industry, its associations and networks need to show some real metal and rid itself of the ‘please sir may I have some more mentality’ tag,” Sheldon said in a statement titled ‘true grit’.

Mr Sheldon says local, state and federal authorities have invested heavily in the sector through marketing campaigns, infrastructure, product and skills development programs and grants, for example, and says the industry can’t keep asking for more.

Meanwhile, in the latest issue of Eye on Q, Tourism and Events Queensland is reporting that marketing of the It's Live! in Queensland events calendar is in full swing, with more than 1.7 million people reached through social media channels by a range of TEQ’s events campaigns focusing on festivals as well as Outback, Indigenous and endurance events.

In further positive news, it has been reported that the country’s hotel sector appears to have avoided the Asia-wide trend of falling occupancy rates due to the coronavirus outbreak. The reason appears to be a greater reliance on domestic tourism.

Jesper Palmqvist, Asia Pacific director at STR, which tracks supply and demand data for multiple market sectors, including the global hotel industry, said this week in the Australian Financial Review; Australia, with parts of it already affected by the bushfires, is seeing far less impact from COVID-19, compared to Asia.

"When looking at daily data for the past 30-45 days, we can’t really see many state or territory capitals where business has dropped to a large degree in direct correlation to the key dates in COVID-19 spread, as in travel advisory decisions or the Chinese New Year," he said.

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