Fee relief for Cairns reef operators extended

JOINT STATEMENT

The Palaszczuk Government has extended financial support for Cairns tourism businesses.

Reef fleet operators at the Cairns Marlin Marina have received fee relief since February 2020, with the latest extension pushing that support out to mid-2022.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said continuing rebates until mid-2022 would amount to more than $10 million in financial assistance provided to reef fleet operators and port tenants since the pandemic began.

“Sectors of our economy are faring extremely well thanks to our strong health response but without international visitors, Queensland’s tourist industry will continue to need support,” the Premier said.

“More than 800,000 overseas visitors contributed more than $1 billion to the Far North economy before international borders shut due to COVID-19.

“With the Prime Minister set to cut off JobKeeper on March 28, things won’t get any easier. Tourism operators in the Far North need all the help they can get right now.

“This fee relief will put cash back into the pockets of tourism operators doing it tough – helping to safeguard the jobs of workers in this industry.

“My government remains focused on supporting jobs and helping Queensland’s tourism industry rebuild.

“Whether that’s through the travel voucher initiative we announced last week, or by continuing to provide fee relief, we’re ready to support the industry through this prolonged downturn.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said since February 2020, tour boat operators have had to pay nothing to berth at Cairns Marlin Marina thanks to the Palaszczuk Government.

“Reef fleet operators were among the first businesses to be hit when international visitors began cancelling their bookings early last year,” Mr Bailey said.

“They will also be among the last businesses to see a return of the international customers they rely on.”

Mr Bailey said rebates for the berths and check-in counters used by reef fleet operators at Cairns Marina will be extended until the end of June 2022.

“The 100 per cent rebate that’s been in place since last year will continue until 30 June 2021.

“From 1 July this year to 30 June 2022, Ports North will move to a rebate model based on overall passengers using the Marlin marina compared to pre-COVID passenger numbers.

“The existing 50% passenger charge rebate will remain until 30 June 2021, before being progressively phased out by December 2021.”

Mr Bailey said Ports North also remained committed to freezing the Cairns Marlin Marina Schedule of Charges for commercial operators until January 2023.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the extension of fee relief for tourist boat operators was a no-brainer.

“I’ve lobbied for this extension for several months and given the expectation that international travel is unlikely to resume in any significant capacity until 2022, we’ll continue to stand by Cairns tourism businesses and the local workforce,” Mr Healy said.

“People are doing it tough here so we need to do everything we can to drive domestic tourism while international borders stay closed.

“The voucher plan announced by the Palaszczuk Government will help us to grow our domestic visitor base into the future and continuing fee relief gives local operators more certainty around their financial situation for the year ahead.

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