Tourism industry's road map to recovery arrives today


HOTELIERS and tour operators will finally learn how to ease back into operation when the Queensland Government issues its new tourism COVID-safe industry plan today.

The plan will outline how bigger pubs, clubs and venues can allow up to 20 people in every separate designated area - but question marks still hang over other parts of the sector.

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young fielded queries during a webinar with Cairns tourism operators, led by Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ), the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and Advance Cairns.

Confusion reigned over how bus and boat operators could be profitable while maintaining 4sq m social distancing - and that uncertainty appeared to reach to the highest levels of Queensland Health.

"There's an immediate impact on the viability of a 54-seater coach if you can only carry four to nine people on those, or in some cases a 14-seater bus can only carry one or two people," TTNQ chief Mark Olsen warned.

Dr Young said a lot of work had been done to ensure the safety of planes, which used hospital theatre-grade HEPA air filters, but boats and buses were a different kettle of fish.

"I don't think it is possible to do (the 4sq m rule) in the tourist industry because it would close you down," she said.

"That's the work that is currently happening … to try and work out what is safe and what is practical.

"Sorry, I don't have an answer at this minute but it is something we are acutely aware of, and it's something we do need to work through."

Those answers will presumably be part of today's industry plan, which covers "accommodation and tourism experiences, including tours".

"We don't believe we'll get it absolutely right for Friday. We'll try to," Dr Young said.

"There will be things we haven't picked up on, so people need to come back.

"But the aim is to have a plan out there Friday so the majority of people can get going."

Larger operations like the Cairns Aquarium and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures will likely need their own COVID-safe plans ticked off due to their size.

"If they think they can manage with that industry plan, that would be fine … (but) I think they would have to have separate plans, and some of them have already started submitting them," Dr Young said.



Originally published as Industry-wide tourism COVID plan arrives today