Coronavirus: ‘This will take Gold Coast years to recover from’

THE State Government is about to pump $2 million into a coronavirus tourism rescue plan to lure Australian families to the Gold Coast.

It will then turn its attention to families in international markets such as Malaysia, New Zealand and Japan to balance the predicted loss from the lucrative Chinese market.

The campaign comes two days after the Bulletin revealed Gold Coast tourism bosses would target the big-spending over-50s market.


Early estimates suggest the coronavirus outbreak could cost the Gold Coast $40 million as the Chinese market weakens.

However, tourism bosses are bracing for much worse and say it could take years to recover.

The Gold Coast will get its own marketing campaign targeted at families and domestic tourists as part of the push to keep our near $6 billion industry alive. The mostly online campaign is expected to start this week.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the Glitter Strip would bear the brunt of the downturn.

"We know that both Gold Coast and Cairns will be hardest hit when it comes to Chinese travellers.

"Ongoing discussions will happen throughout the week in regards to the impact on the tourism and international education sectors.

Kate Jones. Picture: Mike Batterham
Kate Jones. Picture: Mike Batterham

"The first thing we've activated is to really beef-up our local campaigning to get people to holiday locally.

"I've been in constant contact with Gold Coast tourism leaders. They're already rolling out their campaign to spend money here on the Gold Coast."

The outbreak has affected 27 countries and territories across the world, killing more than 305 people.

There are now 12 cases within Australia and more than 14,569 globally.

Two people on the Gold Coast have been confirmed to have the condition. They remain in isolation in the Gold Coast University in stable condition.

As of yesterday, a ban on non-Australian citizens or permanent residents arrival was introduced.

Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said significant funding would be needed to keep the Coast's biggest industry moving.

"We need a large amount of money to do some really intense marketing in New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia to offset the decline in the Chinese numbers," he said.

"We have these huge over-50s and family campaigns, but we will need additional funds pumped in by all parties.

"We are working hard to try and assist but the impact will be felt not only by the airlines and airports but the tour companies, the restaurants and this means jobs may be affected depending on how long this goes on for.

"It has set us back a couple of years so far, but we do not know how big the impact is going to be."

Visitor numbers to the Gold Coast from greater China for the year ending September 2019 totalled 340,000 and delivered $428 million into the local economy.

Tourism operators have already reported widespread cancellations on top of a 20 per cent decrease in group bookings across the leisure sector.

A temporary group travel ban came into effect last week just two days into the Chinese Lunar New Year period, traditionally one of the city's busiest periods for international visitors.

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington called for more to be done to assist operators.

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