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Six months after Debbie, tourism is roaring ahead

October 3, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Six months have passed since severe tropical cyclone Debbie slammed into the Whitsundays with devastating force – and tourism in the region has sprung back with impressive resilience.

Debbie was strongest tropical cyclone to belt the region since Cyclone Quang in 2015. When Debbie hit the Whitsunday Coast in late March it was branded the most dangerous cyclone to impact Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Now, visitors from across Australia are returning to the Whitsundays thanks to a joint marketing campaign between Tourism and Events Queensland and some of Australia’s most iconic brands.

Queensland’s tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones launched the intense, three-month marketing push in April in partnership with Flight Centre, Virgin Australia and Infinity Holidays.

The marketing push included AUD 1 million worth of support to sell Queensland destinations interstate as well as a targeted advertising campaign across TV, radio and social media.

Jones said the results showed it was money well spent.

“The number of people who booked a trip to the Whitsundays through Flight Centre in June increased 18% while in July there was a massive 44%  increase,” she said.

“The numbers are just as impressive in terms of room nights with accommodation booked through Infinity Holidays increasing 10% in May and 17 per cent in June.

“In July, that figure grew even further to an increase of 52% year-on-year for the number of room nights booked through Infinity Holidays.”

Flight Centre Head of Customer Experience Darren Wright said the company was impressed by the results.

“Australians are very supportive of our regional tourism markets so we knew it would only be a matter of time before people started flocking back to the beautiful Whitsundays for their holidays,” Wright said.

“These figures show an incredibly strong resurgence for the region and prove that even during winter, you can’t beat a Queensland holiday.”

Jones said the digital aspect of the campaign was also strong, with digital advertising recording nearly six million impressions and reaching more than 2.8 million people.

“Advertising on Facebook generated an extra 2.8 million impressions, reaching nearly 850,000 people,” Jones said.

“Following Cyclone Debbie we knew how important it was to send the message that the region was open for business and was still one of the best places in Australia to visit for a holiday.

“The best way to support our tourism industry was to take a holiday at home and encourage others to do the same so they too could enjoy the unique and unrivalled experiences on offer throughout Queensland.

“Tourism in the Whitsundays alone is worth AUD 1.6 billion and supports more than 7000 local jobs which is why it was so important the Palaszczuk Government acted quickly and decisively after Cyclone Debbie.”

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Craig Turner said the results were great news for the Whitsundays.

“These are fantastic results off the back of these marketing campaigns and they really speak for themselves,” Turner said.

“We are very grateful to Minister Kate Jones for her support of the Whitsundays and also our trade partners Flight Centre, Virgin Australia and Infinity Holidays and of course Tourism and Events Queensland, who we work side-by-side with.

“The Whitsundays might have experienced an extreme weather event in March but looking out the window now you would never know.

“Our tourism operators have been absolutely fantastic in the ensuing months, getting out there and doing what they do every day, delivering the same excellent service and experience.

“The Whitsundays offers a premium Great Barrier Reef experience, including being able to see the iconic Heart Reef, as well as island and mainland experiences, so we really do have it all when it comes to holidaying in Australia and it is very heartening to see Australian holidaymakers coming to region and supporting us”.

Edited by Peter Needham

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