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North Queensland gets back to business after cyclone

April 15, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A weakening Cyclone Ita blasted its way through Tropical North Queensland and spared most places from serious devastation, though tourism operators are concerned about Easter cancellations.

Cairns remained relatively unscathed, a relief for Queensland and for Tourism Australia, which is holding the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) there in a little over three weeks.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council says “business as usual” operates in many areas, despite wet conditions.

Operators of Lizard Island tourist resort seem to have got off lightly. About 100 staff and tourists were evacuated from the resort before Ita struck but most of the buildings remain intact, though many palm trees were flattened.

“We are very, very relieved,” a spokeswoman said.

The Great Barrier Reef seems to have escaped major damage. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has formed an incident response team to work with local communities and the tourism industry to help recovery.

“The inner reefs, you’ll see the water will be less clear because of the flow off from the various rivers and creeks,” local tourism operator Tony Baker told ABC News.

“Once we get out to the outer reef areas, we’re very hopeful that there was very minimal damage from the actual cyclone.

The Queensland Department of National Parks has closed all camping areas and walking tracks on island national parks in Far North Queensland until tomorrow, Wednesday 16 April.

Heavy rains buffeted Townsville and Cairns, Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands – with remote Cooktown being hardest hit. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says could take Cooktown up to three months to recover.

An inland sea surrounds Ingham, about 110 kilometres northwest of Townsville, with floodwater cutting the town in half yesterday.

Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said tourism operators had “dodged a bullet” with the cyclone.

“Easter is going to be wonderful…the welcome mat is out. Come to Queensland and have the Easter of your life,” she said.

Written by Peter Needham

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