Council will provide an extension on half year rate payments, fast-track funding for marketing the region and produce videos to drive tourism as part of a raft of initiatives to respond to the ongoing economic impacts from Novel Coronavirus.
There has also been recognition of the devastating loss of life and social impacts in China as a result of the virus, with more than 40,000 confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths.
“While the impact on our city is significant, at this time we must also remember our friends in China and the toll it has taken on so many families and communities,” Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said.
“Cairns has a long and close relationship with China – we have had a Sister City relationship with Zhanjiang in China for the past 15 years, and the influence of the Chinese culture on our city cannot be understated.”
Council will write to Zhanjiang, expressing the Cairns community’s empathy and support at this time.
Chinese visitors make up 7 per cent of total visitors to the region and 24 per cent of our international visitors. Cancellation of bookings from China, equating to over 12,000 room nights, has already resulted in a $25 million direct economic impact to the city.
Cr Manning said the impact of the Coronavirus has been further exacerbated by the recent international coverage of the bushfire crisis and the longer-term downward trend in international visitation to the region.
In response, Council has endorsed a number of measures to help residents and businesses in Cairns.
“As well as advocating for State and Federal Government assistance through policy and funding, Council will instigate a number of initiatives, including a rates payments extension for homeowners and businesses, fast-track funding for Tourism Tropical North Queensland, and develop and distribute videos on social media to drive domestic tourism to Cairns.
“This is a difficult time for Cairns, but we have been through testing times before and I remain optimistic that we will, as we have done in the past, successfully meet the challenges ahead.”
Council initiatives in response to the impacts of Novel Coronavirus include:
- Extension of the due date for the half-year rates from 27 February 2020 to 27 May 2020 for all ratepayers.
- Immediate payment of $2,057,000 (including GST) to Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ), effectively fast tracking all payments due to TTNQ over the remaining term of Council’s Resource and Performance Agreement with the organisation.
- Reallocation of $150,000 (excluding GST) in TTNQ project funding previously allocated to the Aviation Attraction Program project (which is no longer proceeding) to other destination marketing activities.
- Allocating $10,000 to develop and distribute, through Council’s existing social media channels, two videos aimed at driving visitation to Cairns.
- A one-year extension of Council’s current Resource and Performance Agreement with Study Cairns Inc, and immediately making a payment of $165,000 (including GST) to Study Cairns Inc in support of international education.
- Working with other regional economic development agencies and allocates $40,000 to develop and promote a Stay Local – Buy Local campaign.
- Advocating to the Queensland and Federal Governments for specific policy and funding to assist businesses and individuals adversely impacted by the Coronavirus.
- Continuing to work with the Queensland Government, Cairns Airport and other stakeholders to ensure the $150,000 (excluding GST) in funding previously committed by Council to support air freight services between Cairns and Hong Kong, continues to be effective.
- Re-emphasising its commitment to local procurement as evidenced by the results outlined in Council’s State of Procurement Report for 2018/19.