The Chinese government’s ban on group travel has reportedly cost Queensland businesses dearly, with some tourism operators reporting thousands of booking cancellations.
Exporters too are bearing the brunt, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has warned, as it too joined calls for the Palaszczuk government to implement emergency assistance.
“There is no doubt our tourism industry is already being hit hard and they are not alone,” said the general manager of advocacy and policy at CCIQ, Amanda Rohan.
“Seafood exporters are experiencing ramifications and there will be other industries who rely on export to China and surrounding countries now unable to do business. An emergency assistance package will need to consider these important industries too,” Ms Rohan said.
“Conditions for Queensland business have been tough and due to the ongoing, unpredictable nature of this current crisis people’s livelihoods are at real risk. They need support now to help them stay on afloat, so they can continue operating and contributing to the long-term success of our economy.”
Taking to Twitter to voice their concerns, local MPs have also joined the call for urgent government intervention.
Deb Frecklington MP said the Gold Coast, Far North Queensland and other tourist centres need help, adding that the coronavirus crisis threatens to wipe out thousands of jobs in the tourism industry.
Bundaberg Regional Council has also decided to postpone a scheduled visit next month of over 50 Chinese delegates because of coronavirus concerns.
“Community safety is the most important consideration for anyone who holds public office,” said Mayor Jack Dempsey.
“That’s why we decided yesterday to postpone a scheduled visit next month by more than 50 people from our Chinese sister city of Nanning, because of coronavirus.”
He added that while Nanning is not directly affected, “even if the risk is minuscule it’s too high for me to accept.”
‘Tough time ahead’
There were about 849,000 Chinese visitors to Queensland in the year ending June 2019, according to Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) data.
Late last week, the CEO of TEQ said that while Queensland tourism industry is already suffering due to the recent devastating bushfires, the spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent group travel suspension are now an added challenge.
“Make no mistake, the coming 12 months will be tough,” said Leanne Coddington.
Ms Coddington advised that the TEQ is “keeping a close watch on the latest updates from federal and state advisories on the coronavirus, and we are keenly aware that our industry is already feeling the impacts of the group travel suspension”.
Currently, there are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Queensland – a 44-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman from Hubei Province, who are recovering in a stable condition in Gold Coast University Hospital.
Seven others in their party remain in quarantine.