Where are the grey nomads this year? Greg McKinnon

Sun 31 May 2020

Podcast Audio

Today Deja.vu speaks with Greg McKinnon from Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort about the dramatic implications for the lack of grey nomads. Airlie Beach and the Queensland tourism economy is without essential cash-flown normally bought about by interstate and intrastate grey nomads and travelling families. It's time to #openqld.

Greg McKinnon explains that at this time of the year, his caravan park would be traditionally full for the most part and the water slides featured in the video would be loaded with people and children enjoying the sublime local winter climate. Greg explains, "From May through to October we should be sitting at 85%, ALL Southerners!"  "They come here and spend a few months enjoying our sunshine, our warmth and our weather."

Such is the anguish and depression for Airlie Beach, Whitsunday and tourism across Queensland. They have been unreasonably denied custom as Queensland's border and intrastate travel restrictions continue, despite very little community transmission of Coronavirus across Australia.

With an announcement due from the Queensland Government today, there is an expectation that some travel relaxations will come, but will it go far enough to deliver tourism businesses across the state the lifeline and certainty that is so needed?

As Greg and many others explain simply, it's the winter months that people visit Queensland and North Queensland and if the tourists aren't allowed to come, it might be next year before some semblance of normal business income returns. This is a bitter post-pandemic economic pill to swallow and a huge liability on the tourism profit & loss, the government's balance sheet and possibly harm the chances of the Palaszczuk led Labor party being re-elected later in the year.

Further to Greg's story, he is a major local employer and has been able to retain most of his staff through the federal government JobKeeper program however, he said that he had to let go a significant portion of his workforce as they were casual - they were unfunded by the program. These people are now drifting in community, perhaps getting JobSeeker, but now disconnected from the business. Greg has reached out to one former casual employee in the past week saying that he was a fantastic employee and can't wait to have him back on the staff.

Greg is unquestionably frustrated that the annual regular visitors from South of the border have not been able to make their pilgrimage this year for a holiday travel experience that is relatively isolated. Greg said, "The great thing about a caravan park is that we have 26 acres here, space is on our side!" "Every site has at least 4 metres between them ". Everyone knows this is absolutely true and further reason that the road travelling holiday-makers be they grey or whatever colour, should be allowed to travel safely and in relative isolation.

Australia has done the right thing through March and April to crush the pandemic and we have come out as a straight-A student with credit due to cohesive layers of government, a well organised and prepared health care system, empathetic law enforcement and most of all, the general public who have learnt how to behave with hygiene and social distancing. Despite this, the Palaszczuk government is intent on keeping us "in after school", and denying us the right to play with our friends. While decision makers cite the need to act in "state's" interests, the actions are patently un-Australian and stifling for a large portion of business and industry, particularly that which relies on tourism across the state of Queensland.

Elsewhere in the world and particularly the USA, civil unrest is the latest outcome of poorly enacted policy - as the powerful nation of the United States teeters. In Queensland, the cracks are just starting to appear requiring immediate well positive decisions.

Better to stem the disquiet, double-check the (lack of) infection numbers and for Queensland to have decisions made for the good of the general public and the psychological balance of Queenslanders and businesses given certainty and customers.Queensland denied grey nomads

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