How is business in Airlie Beach? Interview with Lyn Gregson

Tue 26 May 2020

Podcast Audio

John Nayler from Magazine, talks to Lyn Gregson about how the Retail business in Airlie Beach is coping with the lack of visitors to the region.

Lyn has been in the Retail business for 34 years and owns 7 retail outlets across the Whitsundays employing 38 staff. She said there has certainly been many challenges over the past 30 years such as pilot strikes, cyclones, flooding and shark attacks that have kept holidaymakers away,  however she has never experienced anything like this before.

A very passionate Lyn said the communities of the Whitsundays have been crushed financially and have begun to feel the effects of non-travel, as far back as January 2020. She believes that they will be one of the last regions to come out of this. Sixty to seventy percent ( 60-70%) of their business is international travellers and going on what the current state of play is, it could be September 2021 before any real changes come into fruition. Lyn highlights the fact that they need to adjust and find a strategy in order to survive and come out the other end with some form that customers and visitors expect. She believes that this is the biggest challenge that Retail businesses will be facing!

Originally Airlie Beach was built on domestic travel and has been maintaining high intrastate numbers around 400,000 visitors per year plus a quarter of a million (250,000) interstate visitors per year. Traditionally the domestic market has been strong and remained strong, however not now. Missing also is the backpacker trade that brings vibrance and zest to the Airlie Beach community.

The difference between domestic and international visitors is that international traveller produce a higher yield. They have not experienced anything like the Whitsundays before so they soak up every opportunity to undertake more activities and scenic tours plus get involved in the social aspect that the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef are notably renowned for.

Airlie Beach retail in trouble

Re-calibrate seems to be the word of 2020. Expect the unexpected and roll with the dice of uncertainty. Lyn says that the only way the Retail businesses will survive is to take on the retail reality of consumer "Need it now", which will become their new emerging market.

She acknowledges and respects the fact that Queenslanders themselves and the Government have done an incredible job of flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic however, now it is time to bring some hope and sanity back into this tight-knit community.

She pleads with the Queensland Premier, Anastasia Palaszczuk to let Queenslanders travel within Queensland. Lyn says, "We have suffered enough and are still recovering from cyclone Debbie, our reserves are exhausted! As a strong community we stand together and will take a considered approach to the next phase of inviting Tourists back to the Whitsundays for a quality experience".

Any coastal Queensland town that is reliant on the Tourism market needs ongoing support from the Queensland Government in order to survive this pandemic. It is time that they looked at each individual Region and make some qualified and informed decisions now and inject funding back into the Tourist market which brings millions every year into the Queensland economy. Time to pay it forward!Lyn Gregon talks about the lack of Business in Airlie Beach

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