The Queensland Government has announced it will waive annual commercial whale watching fees as part of a support package for operators who have been affected by COVID-19.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the tourism industry had been one of the hardest hit industries by the global pandemic here and around the world.
“And that’s why we’ve made sure it’s been front and centre of Queensland’s recovery plan,” the Premier said.
“We know that every little bit helps to keep businesses running and to keep Queenslanders in jobs so we’re waiving the annual commercial whale watching fee of $6,045 for local operators for the 2020 season,” she said.
“That means the 18 operators across the state will save $110,000 which includes more than $91,000 for the 15 operators in the Great Sandy Marine Park.”
The Premier encouraged Queenslanders to make sure they included a whale watching experience on their next holiday.
“July to November is the peak season for whale migration as humpbacks and their newborn calves travel along the Queensland coast on their annual 6,000-kilometre migration to and from the Antarctic,” she said.
“Last year more than 83,000 tourists enjoyed a commercial whale-watching trip to see the humpback migration, so it’s an important tourism driver for our state.
“When you back our tourism industry, you back jobs.”
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leeanne Enoch said nature-based tourism like whale watching provided important industry and small business employment.
“The best way to experience these majestic animals up close is to go on a commercial whale-watching trip and support local tourism operators,” she said.
“By waiving the 2020 season commercial whale watching fee, we are supporting this important industry and the plan for economic recovery making Queensland Good to Go.”
Fraser Coast Tourism & Events general manager, Martin Simons welcomed the Government’s decision.
“This will give operators a positive boost as they worked hard to rebuild revenue lost during the COVID shutdown,” he said.
“The Government has been very proactive in the support of the Fraser Coast tourism industry and while recent school holiday visitor numbers were strong, marine touring products still faced a challenging year ahead.”