Gold Coast theme parks will receive around one in every five dollars spent under the Queensland Government's $50 million tourism recovery package.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today announced $11 million to help Village Roadshow (ASX: VRL), Ardent Leisure (ASX: ALG) and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary retain staff while they wait for other support from banks and the Federal Government.
Village Roadshow operates Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild, while Ardent Leisure is known for Dreamworld which even before COVID-19 was struggling to recover from the Thunder River Rapids Ride (TRRR) tragedy of 2016.
"These are some of the biggest employers on the Coast. I'm making sure that this funding gets out the door as soon as possible to help safeguard jobs during these tough times," says Palaszczuk.
"Tourism businesses are doing it tough right now. It's crucial that we work with the private sector to ensure that they can get back to businesses soon."
Tourism Minister Kate Jones says theme parks are vital to the Gold Coast's economy.
"Sea World, Dreamworld, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary - these are names that are recognised right throughout the world," she says.
"We're working closely with these operators to ensure workers don't lose their jobs.
"The funding we're delivering today must be used for specific purposes, including wages, re-opening of attractions and other supplier costs."
Assistant Tourism Minister and Member for Gaven, Meaghan Scanlon, lobbied for funding to support some of the industry's biggest employers.
"One in seven Gold Coast workers are employed in the tourism industry - many of these people work at theme parks," she says.
"Today's funding will help to give workers certainty that we're standing with them through this crisis."
Dreamworld chief executive officer John Osborn welcomes the support and is pleased the government recognises the significant role our Parks play in the economy.
"We welcome the support announced by the Premier and Minister Kate Jones today as it will reduce our cash burn while we work with the QLD Government to finalise a date that we can viably re-open," he says.
In addition to the $50 million tourism recovery package aimed at protecting "tourism icons", the state government is also spending $7 million on a domestic tourism campaign, whose slogan "Queensland - You're Good to Go" was revealed yesterday.
Palaszczuk says the campaign is projected to deliver $1 billion in overnight accommodation takings for hard-hit tourism operators over the next four months.
"In coming weeks, you'll see our 'Queensland - You're Good to Go' campaign on television, in newspapers and across social media platforms showcasing the best of our state from Cape York to Coolangatta.
"Because Queenslanders have done such a great job flattening the curve, we were able to open up intrastate travel two weeks earlier."
The Premier had previously indicated the border could remain closed as late as September and the state's roadmap to recovery indicates a July reopening, but there has been speculation that this week she will be able to set an even earlier date.
The campaign will run from June until August, with flow-on effects expected into the September school holidays.
"Tourism and Events Queensland expects Queenslanders could spend over 9 million nights enjoying what the state has to offer, which would produce a $1 billion in overnight expenditure for tourism operators.
"Every year, 3.2 million Queenslanders spend nearly $10 billion holidaying interstate and overseas.
"We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Now's the time to get out and about and experience it."
Jones says the campaign is designed with the June-July holidays in mind.
"When interstate travel can return, this campaign will be expanded and tweaked to ensure our destinations remain front-of-mind for all Australian travellers," she says.
"The June-July school holidays are shaping as a crucial time for our operators.
"People often say to me I've always wanted to see Carnarvon Gorge, I've always wanted to get to Airlie Beach. Well, now's the time."
Australia Zoo's Terri Irwin welcomes the campaign.
"I am excited for Queenslanders to experience the many destinations that make our state so spectacular," she says .
"Australia Zoo is proud to be reopening for families to reconnect with wildlife and nature. Now it is even more important than ever to travel, make memories, and share mateship."
Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) chief executive Leanne Coddington says the campaign will show Queenslanders the very best of their own back yard.
"This is the chance for Queenslanders to experience our own tourism offerings and in turn help an industry which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic," she says.
Updated at 1:35pm AEST on 8 June 2020.
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