There is no question that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) preceded by the savage bushfires has taken a heavy toll on visitor numbers to all of Australia. Far North Queensland, is no exception to this, with cancellations estimated at over $200M already. Last week the government announced a $27 million stimulus package aimed at invigorating this important regional industry. The Core of the government's package is to extend campaigns into markets outside of Asia, mainly Europe and North America, working with tour operators and airlines to make more attractive pricing for international and domestic visitors. The effect of the sudden and significant drop in visitor numbers, especially following the reduction of visitor numbers in 2019, has been obvious with many local tourism based businesses scaling back, cutting staff, selling or considering shutting altogether. The stalling market has been especially hard for small owner operator businesses in the food and beverage industry, which account for some 70% of industry members. In his position as editor of FNQ Food Magazine, David Leith has been pushing to develop local Food & Beverage offering as a marketing tool for the region.
"Overall, we believe food has become a very important part of the tourist experience, as well as driving local and VFR market business around the region. That does not just mean produce, that's food service, cafes, pubs, restaurants and so on.”
"This is not a new idea and one that is developed globally, especially in places without a draw like the Great Barrier Reef."
"Riding global trends in food by pushing the unique and diverse local food offerings should be of real benefit to the tourism industry. Simply put, it helps to create another dimension to the draw of Far North Queensland beyond the current market pool of reef and rainforest."
"There are over 1,500 businesses that serve food and drink in the FNQ region, and almost all of them operate some sort of social media account."
"We want businesses and consumers to help drive and combine content. If the community can come together and use the #FNQFood hashtag on any relevant posts, we can very quickly create a huge amount of noise."
"Ultimately we all benefit from the tourism success across the region, and now we can all do a bit to help!”
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