New initiative part of $44m package to fast-track tourism recovery in Far North Queensland

New initiative part of $44m package to fast-track tourism recovery in Far North Queensland

Photo: Tourism Tropical North Queensland, via Facebook.

The tourism industry in Far North Queensland is getting a major funding boost to fast-track the recovery of operations following damage caused by Cyclone Jasper last month as part of a $44.25 million package announced today.

The joint federal and state initiative includes a $24.25 million Tourism Recovery and Resilience Program that will develop a grants program for Far North operators who have been cut-off or heavily affected by the extreme weather.

A separate $20 million clean-up program has been announced in response to both Cyclone Jasper and the Southeast Queensland storms that hit the region over the Christmas holiday period.

Under the grants program announced today, impacted tourism operators will be able to access funds to help re-establish their business, continue employing their staff and rebuild with flood-resilient infrastructure such as solar panels and other mitigation infrastructure.

The program will also be used to fund a tourism and events marketing campaign to attract more visitors back to the region.

The tourism initiative follows a $5 million package announced last week to provide discounted airfares into Cairns in addition to discounted accommodation packages, a joint-government support package that is being delivered via the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

The $20 million clean-up program will deliver support to FNQ councils and state agencies as they continue their work clearing debris from community assets, parks, national parks, beaches and waterways.

“This beautiful place has been ravaged by this disaster, and we want to help Far North Queensland get back on its feet as soon as possible,” says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who this week has been visiting Queensland to inspect the clean-up operations.

“Disaster recovery at this scale will take time so it’s vital we keep making these investments so that Far North Queensland can bounce back faster and stronger.

“Tourism in particular is one of the lifeblood industries of Far North Queensland, and we want to make sure businesses hit hard can not only survive but thrive again.”

Albanese says the focus is also on helping primary producers and the councils of Wujal Wujal and Douglas.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles says the latest funding package comes on top of a $64 million package announced before Christmas and ‘millions in personal hardship assistance that’s already in the pockets of residents’.

“We know there’s still a long road to travel until the Far North has fully recovered from Jasper, but this announcement today significantly strengthens our work,” says Miles.

“This latest package is informed by our conversations with councils, industry and the community, and I acknowledge their strength and resilience in these tough times.”

While most tourism business have resumed trading, there are many in Far North Queensland that remain closed in areas such as Cape Tribulation and along the Captain Cook Highway, weeks after the cyclone and flooding hit the region.

“The support will be targeted at helping them retain skilled staff and improve their operations, while encouraging visitors to start getting ready to plan a trip north,” says Queensland Tourism Minister Michael Healy.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of our region, and we are steadfast in our commitment to support tourism operators through this difficult period.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen has welcomed the latest government package supporting the industry.

“The support will provide relief for Tropical Queensland tourism operators who missed their peak season over Christmas and New Year and are unlikely to see significant visitor numbers until Easter,” says Olsen.

“It is critical for the businesses that remain isolated to receive assistance so they can continue to pay wages and make the repairs necessary to resume trading once their access roads are open.”

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