Back-to-business in the Whitsundays. 12:35pm, Wed 20 May 2020The premier has opened up Queensland and we introduced the Covid Safe policy to reopen our doors!
What a great feeling Qld supporting other Qld'ers!! there never been a better time to visit the Whitsundays. Socially distanced of course!
Sustainable tourism is a hot topic in the North of Queensland. During Covid 19 its no different, more so now than ever before Tourism Operators want to get back on their feet and minimise Government hand outs.
Director and General Manager of Cumberland Charter Yachts Sharon McNally said, "Letting QLD Open is fantastic, allowing operators to get back to business, we can support ourselves with charter bookings not Gov hand outs, which will take decades to repay!"
Sharon applauded the Premier and Chief Health Officer on the strong approach to border restrictions "Intrastate travel has given us a lifeline and we look forward to July when we hope borders will ease, I don't wish to seem ungrateful for the offerings QLD government have put on the table with Grants and Free Training but it doesn't make sense to give handouts when we can support ourselves, all we need is a little bit of common sense.. we have seen many nonsensical ideology applied. We are not a region of dole bludgers and don't accept handouts lightly, we just want to GO Bareboating". said Sharon. adding "As minister for "Trade" she has to put Australian Jobs and trade first.
Here at CCY we have operated a safe and responsible tourism business for 35 years, while we appreciate that health department and Chief Health Officer are trying to make good decisions for QLD in a very difficult and ever-changing environment, there are times when those decisions completely defy logic. Our situation is so unique.
Bareboat charter companies in the Whitsundays were originally told they could charter vessels for overnight stays to family groups or couples. Then soon after this advice was retracted and we were told "NO".
As one of the longest standing and highly awarded operators in the Whitsundays, Cumberland Charter Yachts consistently taking home tourism awards, not just for the region but State and even Australia wide. Right now, Director and General Manager Sharon McNally has $20,000 worth of bookings for immediate charters. She has another half a million in forward bookings to Oct.
But the boats sit idle because we aren't allowed to sell tourism accommodation overnight.
If a family charted the boat for the day they will have touched winches, comings, handles, tables and most of the other surfaces on a boat. Touching them again the next day does not increase the chance of spreading the virus. Nor does using the toilet twice instead of once. They are allowed to have a nap on the bed after lunch, but not over night. It defies logic, especially when SCOMO is suggesting Australia urgently needs to get the tourism sector back in action, urgently needs to get people employed and urgently needs to get businesses like Cumberland fully productive.
We have full support from AMSA, the Water Police , Harbour Master and the BIA, as well as local MP George Christianson. Plus our Boat owners, suppliers and staff who are literally begging to get back to work. We just need Maritime Safety Queensland to retract the ludicrous "day trips only" directive.
The boating industry is closely related to tourism and many of our members have felt the brunt of COVID-19 which has restricted movement and discretionary spending. The boating industry is hurting with significant staff layoffs and business closures.
The BIA is an advocate for the charter industry which is largely comprised of small, family run businesses which have been affected severely by COVID-19, on top of the previous three years of challenges presented by: Cyclone Debbie in 2017; shark attack in 2018 and media coverage of climate change effects on the reef.
The BIA is supporting charter businesses such as member and award-winning business Cumberland Charter Yachts (CCY) based in the Whitsundays who have expressed alarm at recent confusion on control measures.
On the 2 May CCY were advised by local Water Police Whitsunday in conjunction with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)that bareboat charters in the Whitsundays would be allowed to operate hire and drive charters. The advice they received from local Police stated: Persons can engage in this activity ‘for pleasure or for mental health benefits”. at that time there were limitations on
1. distance 50km from home
2. who can be onboard (under same roof (family) or 1+1). They may stay on a vessel overnight.
On 8 May, however, MSQ issued advice retracting this permission related to overnight charters. This created a frustrating situation; as bookings were taken, disease control measures put in place, and charterers were already out on the water or planning to be soon. For the industry to have to unwind such bookings is not workable or indeed acceptable.
The BIA is asking the Queensland Government to revisit this issue and allow charters by household units or 1+1 to stay overnight within 150 kms, as per the original advice from Whitsundays Water Police. This would help keep this important business and tourism section in the Whitsundays viable, people in jobs and support for social benefits that can arise from escaping on the water in what is a low-risk activity.
LOCAL MP Newsletter:
"Queensland urged to let bareboats set sail"
FEDERAL MP George Christensen has slammed the decision by Queensland’s chief medical officer to stop bareboat charter operators in the Whitsundays from filling their bookings for family groups to set sail.
“Today I have written to the Premier, Queensland’s chief medical officer and the state’s tourism minister asking for common sense to prevail, and allow bareboat charter operators to provide family groups, who travel on a bareboat charter with no staff at all, to get out on the water,” Mr Christensen said.
“The Whitsundays is suffering from COVID-19 restrictions more than most because the region is almost totally reliant on tourism.
“And we have bareboat charter businesses ready to go and family groups booked and ready to sail who have been told one thing and then another regarding their ability to operate.
“When authorities like the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) believe a family group undertaking a bareboat charter, where they can ensure they don’t see another soul for the time of their trip is a safe option, it beggars belief that we have a ruling from the Chief Medical Officer that this is not allowed.
“I can only assume that the Chief Medical Officer does not understand how bareboat charters operate.
“I have asked, for the sake of these Whitsunday tourism operators and the locals they provide jobs to, that this senseless red tape is removed as soon as possible.”
SUPPORT Australian Tourism :
How can you help: "Lets get to work and get our wonderful country back on its feet. Its really simple', says Director Sharon McNally, "book a holiday in your own back yard".
"Our small business usually supports 15- 20 jobs but at the moment I only have 2 full time staff and everyone eligible is on Job Keeper, our business injects over a million dollars each year to our local economy, by way of local Nominal Gross Regional Product (GRP)*
We know our clients spend an additional $900.00 per charter on food and drinks which further supports our suppliers and local businesses." said Sharon. "Our boat owners are mum and dad owners, who had a dream to go cruising and sail the world one day"
"The Whitsundays is a tourism town, without my business operating the whole town suffers!
That said, our boat owners have been amazing, they have engaged our suppliers to keep them ticking over, anyone who knows boats knows, they always need attention, right now we have the whole fleet available for maintenance."
Sharon is mindful "We need to ensure everyone supporting us comes out the other side and the whole town thrives. When we do get back to work we anticipate high domestic demand so we are going to be relying on our suppliers to keep up with the additional workload".
"My staff too, we have shared many a tear and a few wines over the past 60+ days, wondering how they can manage bills and mortgages, questioning, when will we get back to work?"
"Our team are long standing staff members, highly skilled and highly valued, we are a family, I couldn't be prouder of the team that stand beside me day after day, they are such an exceptional bunch, I'm truly humbled by their support and generosity."
"Once the pandemic has passed, we will have a bloody big Covid party and celebrate our brilliant team, I think the drinks are on me thou," joked Sharon, "Its my small way to say a huge thanks to my crew."
The Whitsunday economy:
The Whitsunday economy supports an estimated 15,805 jobs, representing 18.56% of the 85,165 people working in Mackay - Isaac - Whitsunday (SA4), 0.74% of the 2,130,837 people working in Queensland, and 0.15% of the 10,683,322 people working in Australia.
In Whitsunday, it is the locality of Airlie - Whitsundays where the greatest number of jobs are evident.
The employment data presented below represents the number of people employed by businesses / organisations in each of the industry sectors in Whitsunday. In this report the employment data is place of work data and represents total numbers of employees without any conversions to full-time equivalence.
Accommodation & Food Services is Whitsunday's largest employment sector, supporting an estimated 2,727 jobs.
In Whitsunday, tourism supports an estimated 3,284 jobs, which is 20.8% of total employment.
The largest sub-sector in Whitsunday is Accommodation & Food Services with 2,604 jobs supported by tourists expenditure.
• 8,354 jobs are supported by tourism in Mackay - Isaac - Whitsunday (SA4) from a total of 85,165 jobs (9.8%).
• 164,562 jobs are supported by tourism in Queensland from a total of 2,130,837 jobs (7.7%).
• 673,950 jobs are supported by tourism in Australia from a total of 10,683,322 jobs (6.3%).