The Queensland Government has announced a jointly funded $2.5 million stimulus for the tourism industry after operators were hit hard by recent storms and floods, giving away 50,000 vouchers worth $50 each that can be spent on experiences across the city.
Premier Steven Miles told a press conference this morning that many businesses got "smashed" by recent storms on Christmas night and over the following days.
"Some of them lost trade on their busiest days of the year, and so today we're announcing a fantastic scheme that is all about letting Southeast Queenslanders come here to the Gold Coast, have some fun, put a bit more gold back into the Gold Coast economy and support our tourism operators and all of the jobs," he said.
He said the vouchers will be valid at a range of day tour operators as well as theme parks, "to get cash into those businesses" and "give cash-strapped Southeast Queensland families a chance to take their kids away for the day".
"The vouchers are valid right through till the end of March. So it'll support the local economy over those few months," he said.
Dubbed "Summer FUNds", the program is funded in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland and Experience Gold Coast.
Tourism Minister Michael Healy described the Gold Coast as the jewel in the crown of Queensland's tourism industry, as a major gateway.
"We need to ensure that the businesses down here are getting strong support," Healy said.
"What we do know is, apart from the bigger operators, that 80 per cent of our tourism products are mum-and-dad operators, and they need that strong support.
"A lot of those businesses were severely challenged and lost the ability to generate that significant revenue which helps them over the quiet times."
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate highlighted the scheme's injection may be $2.5 million, but as it's matched by the person buying the voucher it will mean a $5 million direct injection into the tourism economy.
"This is a proven strategy that we know works well to get locals and visitors alike exploring their own backyard and the immediate injection will help to stimulate our economic recovery," he said.
“Queenslanders, there’s never been a better time to jump onto that Gold Coast experience you’ve always wanted to do and show your support.”
Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Patricia O’Callaghan highlighted the program as an exciting collaborative effort that will have an "immediate response and effect on our operators from theme parks to jet skis to skydivers".
"Importantly, it's also an investment into the long-term marketing of this region. It is proven that when our holidaymakers come and have a great time they will return with more families and friends," she said.
"We’ve been listening to industry across the Gold Coast and have worked closely with Experience Gold Coast to design a package that incentivises and inspires visitors to book an experience.
"This is an initiative that was designed off a similar model used on the Gold Coast during the pandemic so we know it will have a positive impact."
Experience Gold Coast CEO John Warn said experience-based operators were the most impacted by cancellations during what was anticipated to be the industry's biggest summer since 2019.
"Our industry demonstrates its resilience time and again but during this peak tourism season it needs our support more than ever as many operators begin the task of rebuilding," he said.
Tourism operators have responded positively to the new initiative.
"We have weathered many storms and setbacks over the past decade, but the recent weather events forced a temporary closure, leading to high cancellations and booking hesitancy from guests in our normally busy period, which challenged the very essence of our watersport haven," said Go Vertical Stand Up Paddle Board & Kayak owner Linda Spiteri.
"Now, despite the setbacks, I am excited to get behind Summer FUNds so that locals and visitors can experience Gold Coast’s beautiful waterways first-hand."
Village Roadshow chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa said the "incredible initiative" would provide a much-needed boost for the industry.
"With a limited allocation of promotional codes available, I’d encourage people to get in early to avoid missing out," Randhawa said.
Shares in Coast Entertainment (ASX: CEH), formerly known as Ardent Leisure and the operator of Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and Skypoint, are up 1.18 per cent at 43 cents per share (cps) following the announcement.
Today's news follows last week's announcement of $50,000 grants available to small businesses Gold Coast, Logan and Scenic Rim regions that have been affected directly by the weather disaster, as well as a $24.25 million Tourism Recovery and Resilience Program for tourism operators in Far North Queensland
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