Mackay CBD - Victoria Street. Picture: Tony Martin
Mackay CBD - Victoria Street. Picture: Tony Martin

$12.5M and 360 jobs stripped from Mackay industry

MACKAY tourism businesses have lost a reported $12.5 million and 366 jobs due to the impacts of coronavirus.

Survey results provided exclusively to the Daily Mercury show the losses were split among 155 respondents across accommodation, transport, attraction, dining, retail, business services and the events industry.

It's a massive "wipe" from local operators' books, Mackay Tourism general manager Tas Webber said.

Mr Webber said the losses were expected to be higher considering the survey, which was conducted in conjunction with Mackay Regional Council, represented only a sample of businesses in the region's tourism industry.

Among businesses that responded to the survey, 16 per cent had operations completely cancelled, with 10 per cent reporting a total revenue loss.

Sixty per cent said they had been "significantly affected" by the crisis, with 38 per cent of tourism providers saying they lost more than three quarters of revenue.

"(Small businesses) were already under extreme strain and then putting this on top means they get pushed a little bit further than they would normally be," Mr Webber said.

Despite the grim outlook, businesses were prepared to bounce back and reopen once restrictions lifted, with almost all saying they were looking to reopen or return to full capacity.

Though, they said this return to trading must be handled carefully to avoid further damage to the industry.


Corner of Wood and Victoria Street. Mackay CBD. Picture: Tony Martin
Corner of Wood and Victoria Street. Mackay CBD. Picture: Tony Martin

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Mr Webber said reopening would not be viable for some businesses, with restrictions making trading "unprofitable".

WakeHouse Cable Park owner Amanda Pelagalli is one operator eager to reopen.

The Andergrove park was forced to stop operations in March.

Ms Pelagalli and her partner adapted the business to continue trading in line with government regulations by offering solo wake sessions and takeaway food.

"It is definitely not something we (are) doing to make money at the moment; it is more that we need to keep that connection with our customers," Ms Pelagalli said.

Despite global impacts, she said plans to bring more tourism offerings to the region had not been quashed.

"All the plans for expansion that we had are still on the cards and if anything, it has given us more time to prepare," she said.

The State Government is being urged to back regional tourism businesses and jobs with a $200 million marketing fighting fund.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the LNP welcomed private sector investment to secure the future of a second domestic airline in Australia, and would back Brand Queensland to make it a destination of choice.

"A $200 million tourism marketing fighting fund will get tourism businesses back on their feet and protect local jobs across the state," she said.

The LNP's Whitsunday candidate, Amanda Camm, said tourism was worth $671 million to the economy, and supported 6300 local jobs, and worth $407 million to the Mackay economy.

"We need to supercharge local destination marketing plans for Mackay and the Whitsundays to get the tourism industry firing," she said.

State Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the government was working with industry on a recovery plan.

"We're working with (Tourism and Events Queensland) on a new campaign to get people back to the region for school holidays," she said.