Queenslanders offered $200 travel vouchers
Queenslanders will be given hundreds of dollars to spend on holidays in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef in an extraordinary move to ignite the region's tourism industry.
Travellers will receive $200 to go towards 'experiences' in one of the hardest-hit tourist destinations in the country in a joint initiative of the State Government and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.
The move, announced today, is expected to generate an extra $14 million in visitor spending for the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef economy at a time when operators are crying out for help after a year of decimated visitor numbers and the looming end of the JobKeeper support program.
If the scheme, similar to ventures introduced in some other states, proves successful, it could be rolled out across Queensland.
It comes as Queensland tourism operators brace for a bumper Easter, with new research suggesting a wave of last-minute bookings could breathe further life into the sector.
Many operators across the state are already reporting excellent numbers for Easter, meaning the prospect of a late booking surge could make next month one of the best holiday periods in years. Cairns could be one of the big winners, with the holiday cash set to lure more travellers north.
Eligible tourism experiences could include boat or bus tours, reef experiences, scenic flights, short day trips, multi-day tours, spa experiences, galleries and exhibitions.
From tomorrow, Queenslanders will have three days to apply for one of 15,000 vouchers which will cover up to 50 per cent of a booked tourism experience, to the value of $200.
While the move will cost about $3 million, it follows the theory of long-held travel trends that beneficiaries often spend more than they would have originally because they are already in front and feel like they have more money to spend.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the extraordinary measure had the potential to provide a significant boost for the region's economy, which is more dependant on tourism than anywhere else in the state.
"It's the first time in Queensland that a government has offered vouchers to bolster and support the tourism industry," she said.
"But these are extraordinary times and Tropical North Queensland tourism operators have done it very tough over the last 12 months. This is just another way to help keep local businesses afloat and safeguard jobs in the tourism industry. We want to motivate as many Queenslanders as possible to head to the far north."
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe called on Queenslanders to enter the draw for the travel vouchers.
"Supporting Queenslanders is what Queenslanders do," he said.
To have almost a third of your visitor economy wiped out by COVID's closure of the international border is a big hit in anybody's language."
TTNQ chief executive Mark Olsen, who has made no secret of the pain being felt in the region's tourism sector, said the new initiative was a welcome one for local operators.
"This is an exciting opportunity for Queenslanders to discover that you can experience the Great Barrier Reef with an Indigenous sea ranger, see the world's oldest rainforest while floating on a raft or go jet boating alongside the city," he said.
Reef operators will be hoping the move sparks a boom in bookings with locals unable to make up for the void left by the absence of international travellers. The vouchers will be valid for travel from March 15 to June 25.
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR $200 VOUCHER
From Monday, Queenslanders have three days to apply for one of 15,000 vouchers covering up to 50 per cent of a booked tourism experience to the value of $200.
Details will be available at: queensland.com/cairnsholidaydollars
Originally published as Queenslanders offered $200 travel vouchers