The Queensland government has launched a new campaign to encourage tourists back into the state, following a wave of publicity dominated by tropical cyclone Ita.
But Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey’s office would not disclose the cost to taxpayers of the “Pack your bags, Queensland” campaign, which would be run on radio, online and through social media, due to it being “commercial-in-confidence” with campaign partner Wotif.com.
Launching the campaign at Queensland University of Technology on Tuesday, Ms Stuckey said many people would take advantage of the back-to-back Easter and Anzac Day long weekends.
“There’s always concerns when you have bad weather reports going around about Queensland, but we want people to know that we are ready to welcome people and that our destinations in our tourism areas are certainly looking their very best,” she said.
“May I please say though that our heart does go out to those who have suffered damage from the recent storm, but I think we’d all agree that Ita spared our tourism destinations for the most part and that is why we’re encouraging everybody to pack their bags.”
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the campaign was well timed.
“It’s unfortunately a very common scenario when we have a seasonal weather event, a tropical event, in Queensland,” he said.
“Unfortunately for the tourism industry, it ends up dominating the front pages of the national media giving the impression that the whole state has shut down and that’s clearly not the case.
“As an industry, not only do we have to deal with the effects of weather, which in this case has been absolutely minimal, but we have to deal with the far more severe impact of the perception we have really been put out of business for a while.”
Mr Gschwind said it was “very difficult” to put a dollar value on Ita’s impact on the tourism sector.
“But tourism operators are concerned and they are looking forward to the holiday season over Easter and the Anzac Day long weekend following,” he said.
“They’re looking for a strong season and obviously that is put in jeopardy when the message is too distorted in terms of the damage that’s been cause by this cyclone.”
Ita’s effect going into next week could still be felt through cheaper prices for holiday-goers, Mr Gschwind said.
“There’s always value to be had,” he said.
“You don’t want to see prices slashed unnecessarily. You want value delivered and I think that’s what you get in Queensland.”