How the floods coverage killed tourism
Sun and sand ... the Gold Coast is one of the many Queensland tourist destinations unaffected by the floods. Photo: Michelle Smith
Rockhampton airport - the only major airfield closed by the recent flooding - reopened this morning as Queensland does its best restore business as usual. However, you'd be forgiven for assuming that, for the past month, the whole of Queensland has been underwater from Camooweal to Coolangatta, Cooktown to Charleville.
As politicians and the media have dramatised the extent of the floods, this has led to what the Queensland Tourism Industry Council terms "a wave of perception-driven cancellations".
“We tell them that we haven’t been affected by the flooding, but, for some reason they won’t believe you – it's very frustrating,” says Kim Marsden, director of online booking agency Travstar.
None of the main tourism centres of far North Queensland (chiefly Cairns and Port Douglas), the Whitsundays, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast were affected by the floods and remain fully open for business.
Yet Daintree Ecolodge owner Cathy Maloney says: "International travel agents who were due to visit Tropical North Queensland have cancelled their familiarisation trips due to the dramatic coverage of floods – floods that are more than 1000 kilometres away."
Of course, the early months of the year have always been wet season in northern Australia and the low season for tourism, although I've always felt that if, for example, you want to see Kakadu, January's weather chaos is the best backdrop: there's fast-flowing water everywhere and the wildlife is literally teeming.
In fact, Tourism Queensland says the floods will eventually benefit tourism in the west of the state. “The area around the Diamantina River will look better than it’s ever looked,” a spokeswoman says. “It will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Where it’s been dry country in the past, it’s going to be rivers with wildlife and birdlife."
In the meantime, however, Queensland tourism has its spin doctors working around the clock, trying to convince flighty customers that there's never been a better time to go.
Have you cancelled a Queensland holiday because of the floods? If you're coming from overseas, did the flood coverage give you the impression that the whole state of Queensland would be underwater for months to come? Have you not believed assurances from accommodation providers that it was business as usual? Do you think Australians should go out of their way to visit the Sunshine State to help the locals? Was Queensland never on your holiday radar? Why?