23 March, 2021
Another nail in the coffin for Outback tourism
THE Federal Government has driven another nail into the coffin of Australia’s Outback tourism industry by subsidising airline tickets to key regional cities.
They announced an estimated 550,000 Qantas and Jetstar fares would be discounted for cities including Cairns, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and The Whitsundays.
The support packages from the government do not promote or include Outback Queensland.
Owner and operator of Outback Aussie Adventures Alan Smith said he believed Outback tourism had been let down.
“There is no equity between what is happening in other regions and here, it is almost like we are too small and not enough scale,” he said.
“I will acknowledge that it is good to see the Federal Government doing something about the guys that really relied on international tourism.
“However, this package will potentially take people away from the Outback market.”
The 2021 tourism season will be critical for Outback operators, as many were forced to close for months due to COVID-19.
“I can’t not be very grateful to the amount of business that we are doing, but everyone got knocked around when lockdown happened for us all last year,” he said.
“We did finish really strong last year, but nothing will ever bring back what everyone lost.
“We already cannot compete with Cairns, Gold Coast and all those destinations but now with the half price fares, it makes is worse for us as we are not competitive.”
Mr Smith said as an Outback tourism operator, he felt as though they had been left out of the conversation involving tourism and airline travel.
“There is not enough being done, there are so many empty seats on planes arriving that we could be filling for tourism,” he said.
“The structure that is in place makes it is impossible to presell it – we need tour-based fares to presell tickets to the Central West.
“We have been negotiating for over six years with Qantas Link and the government and the unfortunate process is that when you have things like COVID, we get pushed back.”
Tour-based fares would allow people to book, and pre-plan their trip to Outback Queensland.
“We need a tour-based fare to really develop people being able to fly in and out of Outback Queensland and it is not just for Longreach, it would help everyone.”
Tourism is one of the largest contributors to gross revenue generated by businesses and organisations in the Longreach region, worth $35.3 million or 7 per cent of total industry output.