The Gold Coast will be one of the big winners from the Morrison Government’s new $1.2 billion tourism package offering 800,000 half-price airfares and extended support for local wildlife attractions and business events.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the support package would kickstart tourism in regions most impacted by international border closures by driving domestic tourism.
“The best thing we can do to support our tourism sector is to bring the tourists and business travel back, and while international borders remain closed that means getting more Australians to book a holiday or attend a business event in Australia,” Mr Tehan said.
“We want Australians to take advantage of the 800,000 discounted airfares to rediscover the many wonderful tourist destinations in Australia.
“So do yourself a favour and do our economy a favour by visiting your travel agent, booking a discounted airfare and taking a holiday anywhere in Australia, like the beautiful Gold Coast.”
As part of the tourism package, the Government has also extended the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program. An additional $130 million is provided to help give eligible travel agents additional breathing space to facilitate customer refunds, follow up travel credits and process consumer refunds.
Several adjustments will be made to the program as a result of industry feedback. The Government will continue to consult with the industry to finalise the conditions of the program extension.
The program provides eligible travel agents and tour arranging service operators with a one off payment ranging from $1,500 to $100,000 to assist with their legal obligations to credit and refund Australian consumers who are unable to travel due to COVID-19.
Mr Tehan visited the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary today with Karen Andrews, the MP for McPherson, Stuart Robert, the MP for Fadden, and Angie Bell, the MP for Moncrieff, to promote the Gold Coast as a tourist destination.
Minister Andrews said it was no secret the southern Gold Coast had borne the brunt of travel restrictions and welcomed the extension of the Zoo and Aquarium program – which would benefit the iconic Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Hospital.
“Last year – for the first time in decades – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was forced to close its doors to tourists, while a record number of sick and injured animals were delivered to the Hospital,” Minister Andrews said.
“This money helps cover the cost of animal welfare, including feed, enclosure, health and other specialised care expenses, and utilities directly related to the housing and caring for animals.
“Our vibrant wildlife attractions are another reason the Gold Coast is bracing for an influx of tourists thanks to our Government’s 800,000 half-price airfares.”
Mr Robert said while the Gold Coast had been hit hard by COVID-19 Gold Coasters were getting back on their feet.
“The Gold Coast is where Australians come to make memories and Gold Coasters love being able to offer people an opportunity to get away from it all but COVID-19 saw our restaurants closed and bars shuttered – this package will keep the momentum up on the GC as we come back strong,” Mr Robert said.
Ms Bell said the Gold Coast business events sector would also benefit from an extension of the Business Events Grants program to cover events up to 31 March 2022.
The Business Events Grants program provides grants up to $250,000 to support Australian businesses participating at pre-approved business to business events as buyers or sellers.
“The Gold Coast is a premier destination for business events and the extension of this program will mean more Australians will receive support to travel to the Gold Coast to take part in an event, trade show or exhibition,” Ms Bell said.
“When people come to the Gold Coast for a business event, they spend money on a hotel room, they eat at restaurants, take tours and go shopping which gives our local economy a boost and helps people in jobs and businesses get up and running.”
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary General Manager Michael Kelly said: “Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary thanks the Federal Government on the announcement of the extension of the Zoo and Aquarium Support Funding. This funding has allowed the Sanctuary to continue to provide the high level of care to all of our animals that call the Sanctuary home, along with providing that lifesaving care to those animals admitted through our Wildlife Hospital.
“This type of funding greatly assists us to maintain our operations whilst the tourism economy continues to recover. We will continue to work with all levels of government in readiness to welcome back visitors from all over the world to this amazing destination.”