Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad has announced a $3.67 million fee relief package for operators at the Cairns Marina, as part of ongoing government measures to help the Far North deal with the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Ms Trad made the announcement at a meeting with key tourism industry stakeholders in Cairns today.
“The Cairns Marina is a vital hub for inbound tourism operators in Far North Queensland,” Ms Trad said.
“Whether it’s reef charter vessels or land-side services, marina operators support hundreds of jobs in Cairns.
“Everyone I’ve listened to here today has reinforced how tough things are for tourism operators after what we now know as COVID-19 struck in January.
“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has worked with Ports North to provide temporary rebates to its tourism and commercial operators as immediate and ongoing relief to help them sustain jobs while we work to contain COVID19.
“Under our jobs protection plan, commercial and reef operators will enjoy a 100% rebate on their Ports North marina fees at the Cairns Marlin marina and a 100% rebate to utilise the Green Island jetty.”
The Port’s retail, food and beverage commercial leasehold tenants throughout the city will receive a 100% rebate on their base rent.
Ports North has also committed to freeze the Cairns Marlin Marina Schedule of Charges for commercial operators until January 2023.
The $3 million marina fees relief package comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk met representatives from Cairns tourism bodies and the aviation industry last week to hear their concerns first-hand and follows Tourism Minister Kate Jones’ announcement a million-dollar package of Cairns marketing campaigns would be fast-tracked.
The Deputy Premier also announced a $660,000 package of relief measures to assist commercial fishers affected by COVID-19.
“The impact of COVID-19 was felt particularly strongly around Chinese New Year, which is normally a huge export opportunity for Queensland seafood,” Ms Trad said.
“So we’re waiving quota fees for rock lobster and coral trout for the first six months of 2020, along with fishing boat fees for these and other fisheries affected by COVID-19, such as mud crabs.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the decision was a timely and common-sense way to help the industry.
“We know tourism is a hugely important employer across regional Queensland but especially in Cairns and the Far North,” Mr Healy said.
“The proof of that has been that Cairns recording the strongest employment growth in the state based on the latest figures.
“Our government listens to locals and is acting to protect Cairns jobs through this period.
“Thankfully, the almost completed $127 million Cairns Shipping Development project will soon see major cruise ships berthing right in the heart of Cairns – creating 2000 jobs in the process.
“This announcement will help operators with the immediate pain, while they look to new opportunities tied to the prospect of more cruise ships coming to town.”
The temporary fee relief package will run for six months, backdated to February 1 2020, when the Chinese travel ban began.