Gold Coast tourism companies have lost $1 billion in visitor expenditure over the last three months compared to the same period in 2019, according to new figures released today by Destination Gold Coast.
The city's tourism body estimates local businesses will have lost $326 million in September alone - a 68 per cent decrease on pre-COVID numbers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 20,094 full- and part-time jobs within the sector have been lost, with a 4,000 further positions expected to be slashed by Christmas.
The tourism industry employs “one in six jobs on the Gold Coast”, says Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan, making it one of the largest drivers of employment in the area.
The Griffith Institute for Tourism previously noted a 37 per cent decrease in visitors and an expenditure decline of 47 per cent on pre-pandemic levels, primarily due to lockdowns during peak travel periods.
It is against this backdrop that O'Callaghan emphasises the industry has been "hurting".
"Our industry has been facing some of its darkest days having persevered through more than 18 months of hardship, but if we get through the next 100 days we can rebound exceptionally strongly," O'Callaghan says.
"We’ve seen support flow in from Federal and State Governments recently that’s going to go a long way, however COVID has left a hole in the pockets of our tourism operators and any additional support is always welcome from both sides of government."
The release of these latest forecasts coincide with Global Tourism Day, which Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan says would usually mark a time for celebration, but "this year looks very different".
"What’s most important is ensuring our local operators are OK," Donovan says.
In a bid to connect with industry peers experiencing losses and check, Destination Gold Coast is carrying out a walk and talk with tourism operators to "check in" on its members today.
"Fresh air, light exercise and connecting with industry peers has never been more critical," O'Callaghan says.
The tour began at Vibe Hotel, moving through the usually busy accommodation precinct of Surfers Paradise and stopping at big names like the JW Marriot before moving along the foreshore.
Hopes are high for the post-COVID era, says O’Callaghan, and she hopes the day can signal a moment of optimism for a renewed future.
“Though our norm has been well and truly shaken up, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder at every turn," she says.
Updated at 11:09am AEST on 27 September 2021.
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