Queensland tourism operators hopeful for better school holidays after wet Easter weekend

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Queensland tourism operators say they’ve had “doubly bad luck” this Easter weekend, with last week’s lockdown and poor weather prompting waves of cancellations across the state.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted a broad area of the state, ranging from the central coast to the NSW border, could be inundated with rain from a trough off the Coral Sea.

It saw beaches on the Sunshine Coast close, with a hazardous surf warning still in place for exposed coastal waters from Fraser Island to the New South Wales border and marine wind warnings south from Capricornia.

Steady rainfall of up to 60 millimetres is predicted across both the Gold and Sunshine coasts on Tuesday.

After more rain overnight, police reported that some roads at Beerwah and Peachester on the Sunshine Coast had been impacted by flash flooding.

At Larapinta on Brisbane’s southern outskirts, flash flooding has closed Paradise Road in both directions between Gardens Road and Radius Drive.

Easter weather warnings came as the south-east emerged from a three-day lockdown on Thursday, when two COVID-19 clusters emerged from Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra hospital.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said while the end of lockdown was positive, the threat of wild weather hurt businesses that relied on the outdoors.

“Well, it was a relief to have the lockdown end after three days. That was certainly an enormous relief for operators across the state,” he said.

“We know that the bookings came back very quickly, and interstate visitation was very strong.

“The weather has been enough to deter people from outdoor activities, obviously, but certainly visitors from interstate are still flocking to Queensland and we have two weeks of holidays ahead.”

Riverlife Adventure Centre and Story Bridge Adventure Climb owner John Sharpe said while he had a strong Friday and Saturday, Sunday and Monday were quieter than usual.

“But that’s mostly because of the weather,” he said.

“Any pre-booked adventures — we try to go ahead with them but there are lots of cancellations.

“Any walk-ins and new bookings you don’t get. Easter Sunday is generally a great day, and we lost a lot of bookings.

“We’ve had doubly bad luck this weekend.”

Mr Sharpe said the rest of the Easter school holidays were looking positive for his business and others.

“If the weather heads off and we get the sun back in I think we’ll have good holidays,” he said.

“There seems to be a lot of people around Brisbane and they will be looking to do something after the rain.”

Maroochy Surf School owner Grant Thomas said he had to decide against operating on Easter Monday and today, because of the severe weather warning.

“Most of the beaches are shut. So straight away with council permits and insurances, if we try and overwrite the local patrol, then it’s not looking really good if something goes wrong,” he said.

“So in the real world now we can’t [operate] at this moment, which is a little bit unfortunate, but obviously well out of our hands as far as controlling the weather goes.”

Mr Thomas said he rescheduled clients to Wednesday in the hope the low-pressure system would move on.

“We ruled out [Tuesday] looking at the forecast,” he said.

“We’ve asked people to be patient, but some people are only here for a day or two and we’ve had to refund them. Fingers crossed for the rest of the week.”

Mr Gschwind said tourism companies were deserving of “ongoing support” from state and federal governments to keep them in business for when restrictions eased internationally.

“We respect government actions on border closures, but we have to work towards opening, and importantly for us we have to recognise these operators are directly impacted by international border closures through no fault of their own,” he said.

Mr Sharpe said his business would likely make it through, and he hoped that others would be able to do the same.

“Those who can hold our heads above water for a bit longer will be well positioned to take advantage,” he said.

“You just need to hang in there.

“You just need to keep positive and make sure your staff are positive.”

By Jim Malo and Jessica Lamb (Original ABC Article)