Tourism chiefs have issued an SOS to the Prime Minister as the full impact of the coronavirus crisis becomes apparent.
Tourism chiefs have issued an SOS to the Prime Minister as the full impact of the coronavirus crisis becomes apparent.

SOS for Morrison as viral impact of coronavirus hits jobs

QUEENSLAND tourism heavyweights are calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to immediately double emergency funding to the tourism industry as coronavirus losses mount into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Federal Government last month announced $76 million in emergency assistance for the industry in the wake of the devastating bushfires.

But Queensland tourism leaders say the amount needs to be doubled due to the crippling effects of coronavirus.

The Government last week closed Australia's borders to Chinese travellers, shutting down Australia's biggest visitor market which is worth about $10 billion a year.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said coronavirus was a potentially greater threat than the bushfires.

"The coronavirus has already resulted in major revenue losses and reputational damage to operators across the nation, including Queensland," he said.

"Early estimates of the accumulated cancellation losses in Queensland alone amount to more than $100 million to date, with some estimates of losses over the coming months exceeding the $1 billion mark.

"Job losses are already occurring and have the potential to become significant."

Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said coronavirus was 'an absolute crisis' which would cost the Glitter Strip 'hundreds of millions of dollars'.

"We need all the help we can get at the moment - Chinese tourism is our most important international markets," he said

"We need local, state and Federal Government support urgently to help support struggling tourism businesses."

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said the state's north had been hit by fires, flood and now coronavirus.

"It's been one thing after another for Cairns tourism operators," he said.

"Far North Queensland is an Australian tourism icon. We are the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

"The Federal Government must act now to save tourism businesses in Cairns from closing.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the coronavirus crisis was the biggest challenge facing the industry in decades.

"Early estimates show this virus could cost Queensland up to $2 billion and thousands of jobs," she said.

"We need help now."