Queensland makes appeal in wake of Cyclone Ita

Queensland makes appeal in wake of Cyclone Ita
By admin

Queensland’s tourism industry has breathed a collective sigh of relief after escaping "relatively unscathed" after cyclone Ita tore across parts of the state.

But concerns remain that operators could still suffer a business downturn during the Easter holiday as travellers steer clear of the state.

While the repair bill is expected to reach up to $1 billion, tourism businesses, hotels and resorts sustained only superficial damage.

Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, said Queensland escaped relatively unscathed.

“We expect to be fully operational come Easter,” he told Travel Today.

But Gschwind admitted the state now faced the familiar problem of dealing with the perception that the cyclone had left Queensland in a state of chaos and devastation.

“Absolutely, that is the problem we always face. There will be the lingering impression that it will not be safe to travel which is so frustrating," he said.

It is often not the weather than causes the most damage, but the lack of understanding among the travelling public who believe even Brisbane has been impacted.

“The lack of geographical knowledge is potentially damaging. It is heartbreaking to see businesses with empty rooms and restaurants and they don’t know why,” Gschwind said. “All we can do is appeal to people to at least phone the hotel or operator or see their travel agent."

Mantra Group said its resorts in Port Douglas, Palm Cove and Cairns are all fully operational with only minor damage to gardens reported.

Peppers resorts on Magnetic Island and Airlie Beach also escaped unscathed and will be open as normal over Easter.

The company said guests with bookings “have no cause for concern”.

“Recovery plans were in place leading up to the event which ensured properties were ready to handle the cyclone and its aftermath,” Mantra chief executive Bob East said. “Thanks to the excellent coordination and teamwork by the operations and central services, all properties will resume to normal trade in readiness for Easter.”

Not all resorts escaped however. Cyclone Ita passed over Lizard Island with initial observations suggesting there was some structural damage although “many of the buildings look to be intact”.

"However, there is extensive vegetation damage which is currently limiting accessibility,” a statement said. “The aircraft runway is operational which will allow us to fly in an assessment and technical team and we should have more information within a week on when we will re-open.”

The resort had been evacuated prior to Ita hitting the coast.

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