Islands boosted by state’s free rent offer
PREPARATIONS will soon be in full swing for Heron Island to resume business following the Covid-19 crisis, and the State Government's $33.8 million free rent package is just the financial injection the resort needs.
Heron and Wilson Islands sales manager Karen Sweeney said free rent for six months from the Queensland Government was a wonderful incentive for tourism, given the current loss of $1 million a month in room revenue.
"While our property has temporarily suspended operations due to the government non-essential travel bans and there is no revenue coming in, any financial support at all is hugely beneficial," Ms Sweeney said.
"We really appreciate all of the support we are getting from the Queensland Government, including the state rent being waived and tourism industry support so we can locate any opportunities that we might otherwise miss.
"Governments at all levels are trying to do everything they possibly can to support us until we can reopen."
A skeleton crew will work on the resort, surroundings and boats, supported by the Federal Government's $130 billion JobKeeper package, when restrictions allow.
"They will be painting and cleaning and getting everything ready … all the boats will be cleaned so we can open as soon as permitted," Ms Sweeney said.
The incentive announced this week by Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham was designed to cushion the financial blow of Covid-19 for tourism operators, businesses, farmers, community and sporting clubs.
Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey approved the package from April 1 to September 30.
"There's more than 90 tourism lessees across the state who hopefully can breathe a little easier now with savings on average of more than $30,000 each," Dr Lynham said.
GAPDL chief executive officer Gus Stedman said the rent relief package should help ease the financial blow to Gladstone's tourism sector, which contributes $200 million annually to the region.
"All levels of government have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide as much support as they are able to businesses and individuals," Mr Stedman said.
"GAPDL are here to support our members and the wider community with as much relevant and timely information as we can provide."
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said the land tax relief would be invaluable to several sectors in the region.
"Many sectors across our region have been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 and we need to do what we can to help keep Queenslanders in jobs," Mr Butcher said.
"Prior to Covid-19 the tourism sector in our region was growing, with more cruise ship arrivals, the expansion of tourism infrastructure like the upgrades at East Shores and the massive promotion of the Southern Great Barrier Reef experience.
"We need to support those sectors hit hardest and this land tax relief measure will ease some of the economic burden being felt due to Covid-19".