The Palaszczuk Government will waive the annual commercial whale watching fee as part of a support package for operators who have been affected by the global economic headwinds of COVID-19.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement while in Hervey Bay – one of the world’s best destinations to go whale watching and the first ever World Whale Heritage Site, a recognition awarded for the region’s commitment to conservation and protection.
“The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit industries from the global pandemic here and around the world and that’s why we’ve made sure it’s been front and centre of Queensland’s recovery plan,” the Premier said.
“Among other support measures for Queensland’s tourism industry under the $6 billion Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs plan which includes the ‘Queensland – You’re Good to Go’ domestic marketing campaign, we’re also waiving this year’s commercial whale watching fee.
“We know that every little bit helps to keep businesses running and to keep Queenslanders in jobs so we’re waiving the annual commercial whale watching fee of $6,045 for local operators for the 2020 season.
“That means the 18 operators across the state will save $110,000 which includes more than $91,000 for the 15 operators in the Great Sandy Marine Park.
The Premier encouraged Queenslanders to make sure they included a whale watching experience on their next holiday.
“July to November is the peak season for whale migration as humpbacks and their newborn calves travel along the Queensland coast on their annual 6,000-kilometre migration to and from the Antarctic,” the Premier said.
“Last year more than 83,000 tourists enjoyed a commercial whale-watching trip to see the humpback migration, so it’s an important tourism driver for our state.
“When you back our tourism industry, you back jobs.”
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said nature-based tourism like whale watching provides important industry and small business employment.
“The best way to experience these majestic animals up close is to go on a commercial whale-watching trip and support local tourism operators,” she said.
“By waiving the 2020 season commercial whale watching fee, we are supporting this important industry and the plan for economic recovery making Queensland Good to Go.”
Fraser Coast Tourism & Events general manager, Martin Simons, said the Government’s decision was welcome.
“This will give operators a positive boost as they worked hard to rebuild revenue lost during the COVID shutdown,” he said.
“The Government has been very proactive in the support of the Fraser Coast tourism industry and while recent school holiday visitor numbers were strong, marine touring products still faced a challenging year ahead.”
Under the $6 billion Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs plan, more than $80 million has been committed to the tourism industry to help businesses keep running and employees in jobs.
The ‘Queensland – You’re Good to Go’ domestic marketing campaign across Australia is expected to generate $1 billion in overnight visitor expenditure.
And more than nine in 10 tourism businesses across the state are considered small businesses and they have been able to access things like grants, payroll tax relief, electricity bill relief, a jobs support loan scheme and commercial rent payment deferrals.
For more information on the Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs plan - https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/government-actions/our-economic-recovery-strategy
Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk