Glimmer of hope for hard-hit tourism industry
DEVASTATED tourism operators can see the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel with the industry eyeing off July as a potential date when restrictions are lifted.
It has been more than a week since the Sunshine Coast last recorded a new case of coronavirus, offering a glimmer of hope to the tourism sector.
The Sunshine Coast has 89 cases of coronavirus of which 13 are active.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford hoped the domestic drive market could be restarted by July at the latest.
Mr Latchford had high praise for government agencies and their response to the pandemic but called for them to give specific dates to when restrictions could be lifted.
"Providing the wheels don't fall off and there isn't another spike in cases, July is our best guess," Mr Latchford said.
The tourism boss said plans and campaigns were already in place so that when the restrictions were lifted, the region was not behind the eight-ball.
"History tells us that someone will know who has done it," he said.
"The drive market will get us rocking and rolling again and really start to turn the cash machine on again.
"People are sick of being cooped up and want to get out and about and they will spend.
"Cafes, restaurants, parks - they're all intertwined."
"We will get back to something. I just wish I had an exact date."
Mudjimba Beach Holiday Park owner Tanya McSorley said the popular park was a "ghost town", even compared with the quiet period that follows the Easter rush.
She said the park had 31 permanent or essential travellers, which left almost 200 empty sites.
"It is a bit hard to compare. Numbers are quiet after the Easter school holidays anyway, but not having those peak holiday numbers was a significant impact," Mrs McSorley said.
"On weekends around this time of year, our place is 50 per cent capacity."
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Mrs McSorley said the low numbers of new coronavirus cases provided hope of a potential lift to restrictions.
She said if Queensland's borders could be reopened, it would be a financial godsend.
Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast CEO Paul Fisher said if laws were relaxed, domestic tourism would take a "fantastic" boost.
However, Mr Fisher was "cautiously optimistic not realistic" about any kickstart date.
"It's a big if, but if lockdown laws are relaxed, the drive tourism would be a huge boost," Mr Fisher said.
"If people can restart driving here from Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Hervey Bay, it would be a fantastic injection.
"Tourism and hospitality could be one of the first sectors to restart. Any safe influx of people would be a big welcome."