NO VISITORS: Byron Shire beaches are a good example of the lack of tourists in the area.
NO VISITORS: Byron Shire beaches are a good example of the lack of tourists in the area.

‘Horrible’: Devastating reality of tourism industry

TOURISM operators in Northern NSW are unsure if their businesses will survive the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent online survey by Destination North Coast took a snapshot and received feedback from almost 300 hotels, pubs, motels, caravan parks, retail, restaurants, conference centres, tour operators and other businesses located in the Tweed, Northern Rivers, Grafton, Lord Howe Island, Coffs and Port Macquarie areas.

Cameron Arnold, Destination North Coast Chair, said feedback from the tourism operators confirmed its worst fears.

“Results are pretty in your face no how bad it is for everyone,” he said.

“Generally, the news is all bad.

“Impact is significant across the whole area.

“The reduction in trade for February and March was 90 per cent and plus, and the impact on future bookings is well and truly more than 90 per cent.

“The really telling thing is the commentary (in the survey results) about loss of staff. A lot of the feedback from businesses were on the fact they cannot retain staff, or staff was afraid to come to work, they don't know how long the staff will stay around for when we do reopen, and if not, how they will retrain people.

“It’s pretty horrible,” Mr Arnold said.

The Chair of Destination North Coast said he thinks there are currently no active tourism businesses operating in the area.

“None that I am aware of,” he said.

“Hotels are closed, some places are open only to be used by apartment owners, but motels, resorts and all other operators are all closed,” he said.

“There is no end date for this yet either, but we need to be ready for when this ends and the industry reopens, and now that Wuhan is starting to reopen, we may need to start preparing for what that will look like.”