PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed Gold Coast theme parks will be handed extra funding as part of a multi-billion dollar coronavirus recovery plan for Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk outlined a range of stimulus packages in Queensland Parliament on Tuesday morning, including $50 million for Gold Coast theme parks and animal parks.
The exact details of how the money will be spent has yet to be released.
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“Queensland’s tourism industry, our state’s backbone, has been dealt a crippling blow by this pandemic,” the Premier told Parliament.
“Personally, it has been absolutely heartbreaking to witness. It has been heartbreaking to make tough but unavoidable decisions like the decisions to close our borders and place hard restrictions on the industry knowing that they would hurt while at the same time understanding that they were absolutely critical in saving lives.
“Tourism was contributing $27 billion to Queensland’s economy and more than 230,000 jobs before COVID-19 hit.
“Nearly one in three jobs have been lost in accommodation and food services in Queensland due to restrictions.
“There’s an impact here that I never imagined that I would witness in my lifetime. History will tell the story of a vital industry, one of our state’s most important industries, being brought to its knee during this unprecedented time.
“That’s why today we are committing $50 million to support our tourism businesses, our iconic theme parks and animal parks.
“We want them to get through this and survive and come out at the other end stronger, more resilient and able to continue to make their critical contributions to Queensland.”
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) were also in the final stages of preparing a domestic tourism campaign, which will be officially unveiled in early June ahead of the school holidays, but said the message in the first instance would be clear.
“Obviously state borders remain closed for the time being but restrictions on intrastate travel are beginning to ease,” Ms Jones said.
“We have a very simple message for Queenslanders – get out and explore your own state.
“The June-July school holidays are shaping as a crucially important time for our tourism operators, who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By having the campaign in market ahead of time, we’re aiming to fill beds and get people enjoying our experiences so money flows back into the tourism economy.
“That will just be the first step of the campaign, with plans to re-enter the southern domestic markets in July.
“Ahead of interstate travel resuming, we’ll be working hard with our airline partners to deliver great fares and I’m confident Queensland will have a strong appeal for the nine million Australians who take an international trip each year and won’t be able to in 2020.
Ms Jones said social media campaigns throughout the pandemic had ensured that Queensland remained top-of-mind for prospective tourists in NSW and Victoria who were planning holidays while in self-isolation.
“Once restrictions are lifted, we want to burst out of the gates,” Ms Jones said.
“We’re ahead of the curve because right throughout this crisis we’ve remained active – working with tourism operators and the private sector to ensure tourists return to Queensland after the pandemic.”
The announcement was part of the Queensland government’s post-COVID 19 recovery plan, labelled The Queensland Economic Recovery Strategy: Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs.
The strategy also includes $400 million to accelerate road, bridge and pavement sealing works across the state, including some projects on the Gold Coast.
The Queensland Government’s recovery plan also includes:
- A rock solid determination to maintain infrastructure investment at more than $50 billion over the next four years, despite the financial challenge of supporting Queensland through the pandemic;
- A further $200 million in 2020-21 for a Works for Queensland program to support jobs and fund productive building projects; and
- An $11.25 million expansion of the Household Resilience Program in cyclone affected areas.
- Redirecting $50 million of industry attraction funding under the Making it for Queensland initiative to continue to expand manufacturing capacity for PPE, hand sanitiser and medical supplies to respond to COVID-19; and
- A $10 million support package to support international students and safeguard Queensland’s global education brand.
- $20 million for free online training which includes training in safety and hygiene standards to keep COVID-19 contained;
- A further $14.8 million to support project development of the CopperString 2.0 project that will connect the North West Minerals Province with the national electricity market; and
- $20 million towards construction of a Queensland Apprenticeships Centre in renewable hydrogen at Beenleigh.
“In recent weeks we have been listening to business and industry and the clear message is that Government investment needs to be directed at investment that will grow and diversify our economy into the future,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The announcements I am making today are a direct result of engagement with industry representatives including from small business, manufacturing, tourism, mining, agriculture, hospitality, construction, housing and property.
“On the road ahead, a close partnership between the public and private sectors is absolutely vital to success.
“So I will establish a Queensland Industry Recovery Panel to ensure ongoing direct engagement with industry peak bodies.
“This is an economic framework that will create jobs by focusing on what we are good at – and by making more products here in Queensland.
“Our number one priority is backing Queensland jobs and doing it in a way that ensures we protect the good work to date that has helped us keep people healthy during the COVID19
“Queenslanders have united, we have worked together to flatten the curve and save lives, and we can take pride in the effort to stare down this invisible foe.
“We will emerge stronger, because that is what we do.”