Tourism bounces back after destructive cyclones

Savannah Meacham |

Sam and Kerri-Ann Charlton are reporting a surge in bookings at their Mission Beach resort.
Sam and Kerri-Ann Charlton are reporting a surge in bookings at their Mission Beach resort.

Tourism is bouncing back in north Queensland after consecutive cyclones wreaked havoc on the region.

Tropical Cyclone Jasper raged through the far north in December followed a month later by Cyclone Kirrily, both bringing heavy rain, flooding and destructive winds.

Homes and businesses were decimated by the weather event which caused billions of dollars in damage.

A view of the Port Douglas coastline.
Port Douglas remains a tourism mecca despite the obligatory cyclones that roll in each year. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

Owner of the Elandra Resort at Mission Beach, Sam Charlton, said bookings dropped significantly in December after Cyclone Jasper hit.

“December was a pretty tough month from a tourism perspective,” he said.

“The rain did a fair bit of damage north of Cairns. We’re south of Cairns so we didn’t quite get the amount of rain that Port Douglas received.

“However, the press on the cyclone impacted everyone in north Queensland and so it’s that perception that everyone out there is sort of being flooded out.”

However, there has been a boost in bookings with interstate travellers looking to head north in winter to escape wet and cold conditions.

“There’s definitely been an uptick. It’s partly a function of people forgetting about the cyclones but that is what happens in north Queensland. It is the nicest time of year,” Mr Charlton said.

The number of bookings so far this year is not as high as 2023, however, there is still a steady increase compared to pre-pandemic visitors.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said June through to August was set to bring a significant spike in visitors to the region.

“We’ve seen a significant ramp-up in bookings so the phone has been ringing off the hook for the last seven days,” he said.

“I think we’ve seen about 10 per cent of additional occupancy added in June, July and in August over the last seven days.”

The majority of those bookings were from interstate travellers, he said.

The Queensland government predicted there would be an additional 1.3 million tourists visiting the state by June 2025, with spending to reach above $1.7 billion.

It believed this increase would be in part thanks to the latest tourism campaign.

The campaign was the biggest real-life game of “Keepy Uppy” – where players avoid dropping a balloon – as featured in the popular children’s ABC TV show Bluey.

“The Bluey campaign certainly brought a lot of exposure for the region and I think a lot of people around Australia have gone ‘Let’s get going’,” Mr Olsen said.