Queensland tourism industry needs government help: Midwood

Bill Morris, principal the Midwood Report, has slammed both the federal government and the Queensland state government for not doing enough to support the state struggling tourism operators.

Speaking to Property Observer, he says funding efforts have been directed almost entirely at the booming mining sector despite 30% of Queensland’s 115,000 registered companies being in the tourism industry.

Morris says tourism operators deserve either a tax break or a GST rebate to compensate for the historically high Australian dollar.

According to the August Midwood Report, areas heavily dependent on overseas tourists have suffered big drops in revenue when comparing the March quarter of 2011 with the March quarter of 2010.

Accommodation takings for Whitsunday Island resorts are down 16% compared to the same time last year, while the Great Barrier Reef islands and adjacent mainland areas (including the likes of Port Douglas) are down 21% over this time period.

Gold Coast takings are down 4% while on the Sunshine Coast they are down 8%. Earnings in Cairns have dropped 1%.

Gold Coast visitor numbers were impacted heavily by the natural disasters of January and February this year as well as by the grounding of Tiger Airways and the general decline in overseas visitors to Australia.

In the March 2011 quarter the average occupancy rate for hotels, motels and serviced apartments combined was 66.9%, the lowest for over a decade.

While room rates increased by 1% compared with the previous corresponding period, further discounting is expected to impact the results for the next two quarters, the report warns.

The August Midwood report provides commentary on the Australian-Chinese tourism summits held in Cairns and Sydney in June and which will be followed up by a summit in January.

The summit highlighted that Queensland tourism remains heavily dependent on Chinese tourism with the state receiving around 42% of all Chinese visitors to Australia, but only 5% arriving directly.

As a consequence, the Midwood report calls for more direct air access from the Chinese mainland.

Despite the high Australian dollar and natural disasters, the Gold Coast experienced 10% growth in Chinese visitors. Brisbane welcomed 28% more Chinese visitors, with state figures up 25% for the year to June 2011.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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