Cyclone recovery: Australia to start special flights

Tropical Cyclone Jasper’s destructive impact on far north Queensland might have discouraged tourists during the peak season, resulting in over $270 million worth of canceled bookings over the usually popular Christmas period.

Despite the challenges, Queensland Premier Steven Miles emphasizes that the region is “open for business” and is making a $5 million effort to attract visitors back. Some communities also remain isolated three weeks after the cyclone and record flooding, with Miles scheduled to assess the recovery efforts in Wujal Wujal north of Cairns.

Despite the recent challenges, Miles announces a timely initiative to encourage visitors to return to Cairns. A $5 million package includes discounted airfares and accommodations until the end of March, with Qantas and Jetstar offering special fares starting from $79 across Australia.

The premier believes that 90% of businesses in the far north are prepared to welcome visitors just weeks after the well-documented devastation caused by Cyclone Jasper.

Tourism is a significant industry in the Cairns region, with one in five jobs related to it. Mark Olsen of Tourism Tropical North Queensland describes the $5 million package as a “lifeline” for the industry.

Miles plans to visit Cape Tribulation and Wujal Wujal with recovery crews, now able to access the flood-hit area. The cleanup has also commenced this week, focusing on installing essential services before a major rebuild.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick also confirmed on Friday that the bill from flooding and storms in both north as well as southeast Queensland in December is expected to reach at least $2 billion.

Miles assures that further support from the federal government, including potential Australian Defence Force assistance, is available upon request, emphasizing the need to assess firsthand what will be required.

After presenting the tourism initiative in Cairns, Premier Miles is scheduled to visit Cape Tribulation and Wujal Wujal on Friday, accompanied by recovery crews who can now access the flood-affected areas. The ongoing cleanup efforts have commenced this week, prioritizing the installation of essential services as a prelude to a significant reconstruction phase.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick confirmed on Friday that the total cost incurred from the flooding and storms in both north as well as southeast Queensland during December is anticipated to be at least $2 billion. Premier Miles expressed confidence in additional support from the federal government, citing the availability of Australian Defence Force assistance if needed. He reiterated the importance of firsthand assessments to determine the specific requirements for recovery.

Despite the recent setbacks, Premier Miles remains optimistic about the resilience of far north Queensland. He declared the region “open for business” and launched a $5 million package to revitalize tourism. This initiative includes discounted airfares and accommodations, with Qantas and Jetstar offering special fares from $79 across Australia until the end of March.

Miles encouraged those who had canceled their holidays due to the cyclone’s impact to consider rebooking, highlighting that 90% of businesses in the far north are prepared to welcome visitors shortly after Cyclone Jasper’s documented devastation.

Acknowledging the significance of tourism to the Cairns region, Mark Olsen from Tourism Tropical North Queensland labeled the $5 million package as a “lifeline” for the industry.

The hope is that this financial support will not only aid in the recovery but also contribute to the broader economic stability of the region. Premier Miles emphasized the resilient spirit of the local businesses and communities, urging visitors to return and play a crucial role in the region’s recovery.

As recovery efforts continue, the Queensland government remains committed to supporting affected areas and collaborating with federal agencies to ensure a comprehensive and effective response to the aftermath of the Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

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