More than 150 Whitsundays tourism operators descended on Whitehaven Beach yesterday (27 Apr) to roll out their beach towels and emphatically Welcome Back all Australian and international visitors as the region continues to strengthen one month after Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
A symbol of the industry’s readiness to welcome back travellers from both far and near, the beach towel message is a timely invitation for visitors to return to the Whitsundays to bathe in the warm tropical sunshine this winter.
Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said operators had literally downed their tools to sail and cruise their way to Queensland’s iconic beach.
“The majority of the Whitsundays is open and the whole town cannot wait to welcome back travellers and to watch them, like many before them, fall in love with the region,” Turner said.
“It’s important the world knows that most hotels have opened their doors, tours are back on the water and the sun is again shining on the Whitsundays. Whitehaven Beach, voted one of the top 10 in the world, is ready for people to unfurl their own beach towel on.”
Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington said the ‘Welcome Back’ message would deliver a great boost to the local tourism industry following the amazing on-ground recovery efforts after Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“The Whitsundays is famous across Australia as the heart of Queensland’s iconic Great Barrier Reef with unique experiences found nowhere else on earth,” Coddington said.
“Tourism and Events Queensland has been working alongside Tourism Whitsundays to get the message out to consumers that the region is ready to welcome visitors.
“This support is vital to the Whitsundays community with tourism worth $1.6 billion to the region and supporting more than 7,000 local jobs.
“The best way to support the industry is to take a holiday at home and see first-hand the unrivalled tourism experiences ready for everyone in the beautiful Whitsundays.”
The Queensland and Federal governments recently announced a significant boost to spreading this message, through a $2 million joint marketing campaign encouraging Australians to holiday in Queensland and support those affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Jan Claxton, owner of Ocean Rafting Whitsundays said the busy Easter period and the re-opening of many businesses had generated an exciting buzz within the industry.
“The industry felt extremely supported over the last month and it’s really exciting for us to come together and show the world that we are open,” she said.
“Sailing, flying or rafting around the Whitsundays, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and visiting postcard perfect locations are bucket-list items for so many people – with balmy weather ahead of us, now is the perfect time to holiday at home and tick these items off your list.”
James Spicer from Explore Whitsundays said that morale is very important to the town.
“We want Australia – and the world – to remember that the Whitsundays is a great destination; it’s cheaper than flying overseas and by holidaying here you are helping those in your backyard.”
Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner added that if the region can’t woo travellers with an emotional appeal and perfect mid 20 degree days, a raft of new experiences will.
“In the last six months Airlie Beach has opened several new products including the five-star boutique Heart Hotel, a multi-million-dollar renovation to the iconic Club Crocodile and new Tiger Air flights direct into the region,” he said.
“Meanwhile, BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, which reopened last week, is looking forward to the arrival of eight new cabins and a brand new waterslide park very shortly.
“While there’s still work to be done, and our hearts go out to those businesses yet to reopen, it’s time for Bali, Greece, Hawaii and Croatia to move over – the Whitsundays should be everyone’s dream destination this winter!”
Made up of 74 mountainous islands in the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays is one of the world’s iconic holiday destinations, with more than 745,000 visitors flocking to the region every year.