Ekka Long weekend tourism bonanza and there’s an Outback jobs boom too

Published Sunday, 09 August, 2020 at 09:44 AM


Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation
The Honourable Kate Jones

South-east Queensland tourism destinations report exceptionally strong booking numbers for the coming Ekka public holiday long weekend as the State’s new Good to Go campaign is embraced by Queenslanders keen to get a break away.

Regions including the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Southern Queensland country are all reporting near full capacity as a result of moving the traditional Ekka public holiday to next Friday (August 14).

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.

“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 Premier said.

“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.”

The Premier said that while Queensland’s tourism industry was badly hit by the global pandemic, we are as committed as ever to helping this key sector recover, to support our economy and create jobs.

“And it’s great to see that support is creating employment opportunities where they are badly needed as Queenslanders unite and recover,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Currently, tourism in Outback Queensland is back on its feet and humming, which has in turn led to a jobs boom there.

“Tourism ventures and other businesses are looking to hire hundreds of workers in the outback right now.”

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the jobs on offer are many and varied.

“Vacancies range from housekeepers to baristas and everything in between. I encourage all job seekers to consider the outback,” Minister Jones said.

“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,” he said.

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,” he said.

Outback Queensland Tourism Association CEO Denise Brown said new job openings were good news for tourism.

“Tourism operators have a need for all manner of workers, supervisors and managers for the next three months of the season,” she said.

“We’re missing the traditional workforce provided by international backpackers and encourage job-seekers to check out the online job sites for immediate opportunities.”

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington said the Good to Go campaign had been positively received.

“Our goal remains to generated $1b 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,” she said.

Southern Queensland Country Tourism CEO 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,” he said.

“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.”

Visit Sunshine Coast Interim CEO 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,” he said.

“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.”

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,” he said.

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,” he said.

“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.

“Whilst 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.”

The new public holiday on Friday August 14 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.


Media contact:

Jack Harbour 0419 620 447.