Bold Queensland tourism operators are bravely launching new attractions in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which has decimated the industry.

While the devastating $13 billion blow to the state's industry has sparked fears hundreds of businesses won't survive the pandemic, that hasn't stopped innovative entrepreneurs launching new ventures ranging from Gold Coast glamping sites to Moreton Bay tours and even submarine journeys on the Brisbane River.

The new wave of business activity comes as new data reveals Easter has been a bonanza for travel operators while January was the busiest month for Queensland's tourism industry in the year since the COVID crisis rocked the world.

New data released today shows close to 146,000 people flew into Queensland's largest airports over the Easter long weekend with 50,000 people flying into the Gold Coast, 38,000 people flying into Cairns, 40,000 into Brisbane and 17,900 to the Sunshine Coast.

Submarine tours of the Brisbane River and Sunshine Coast will begin from next month. Picture: Tara Croser.
Submarine tours of the Brisbane River and Sunshine Coast will begin from next month. Picture: Tara Croser.


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the results from Easter and January were pleasing.

"After a tough year for our tourism industry, things are starting to look up for many operators in some of our most important visitor destinations," she said.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Easter and the school holidays had delivered an economic boost for some destinations.

"We've had encouraging reports of Easter occupancy rates seeing positive growth and continuing into the school holidays," he said.

The recent surge in demand comes on top of a successful Christmas school holiday period, where the latest Tourism Research Australia figures show that, despite a Brisbane lockdown, the January holiday season brought the most visitors and visitor spend for Queensland in a year.

Visitors spent $1.9 billion in Queensland in January 2021, up from $1.3 billion spent in December 2020, according to TRA's National Visitor Survey.

Andrey Alexeenko says he is confident his submarine business will be successful despite COVID’s impact on the tourism industry. Picture: Tara Croser.
Andrey Alexeenko says he is confident his submarine business will be successful despite COVID’s impact on the tourism industry. Picture: Tara Croser.


DownUnder Submarines had planned to launch last year, but will instead start Brisbane River surface cruises next month, with plans to commence dive trips off the Sunshine Coast a month later.

Business owner Andrey Alexeenko said he was confident of success for the only Australian submarine tourist operation, despite the well-publicised recent struggles of the travel industry.

"I don't see any problems," he said.

"This is a unique attraction in Australia and we think it is something people will want to experience."

River to Bay has already started operating tours taking in Moreton Bay's most impressive sights from the Tangalooma wrecks to the St Helena prison ruins.

It is the brainchild of RiverLife boss John Sharpe, who also said he was prepared to back its success, even in the face of the pandemic.

"We believe next year will be really strong, so we're committed to hang in there this year," he said.

"By the time everything comes back it will be a pretty well-oiled machine, so we will be sweet."

Thunderbird Park in the Gold Coast hinterland has also made a considerable investment, opening the first three of 25 new glamping tents this week.

"Glamping at Thunderbird Park is a perfect example of the tourism industry rebuilding better for the changing tastes and expectations of visitors to Queensland," said Mr Hinchliffe.

Originally published as Submarine tours of the Brisbane River launching soon

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