5th April 2017
Less than a week after Cyclone Debbie wreaked havoc across north-eastern Queensland, tour boats have returned to the water in the Whitsundays Islands. Although resorts on Hamilton Island and Daydream Island bore the brunt of the cyclone's fury, tour operator Asher Telford said that most boats survived and that it was an exciting day in the Whitsundays as many businesses returned to normal.
Mr Telford's catamaran was one of the first commercial tour boats to depart Airlie Beach since the cyclone on Tuesday and as he set sail on a two night trip with 18 holidaymakers he said he had butterflies being back on the water. Onboard the catamaran was English tourist Demi Weatherhead who said that despite many people saying she should avoid the area after the cyclone, she was glad that she decided to come to Airlie Beach and continue with her holiday plans.
Despite the wild Whitsundays weather, there are already estimates that the pontoon will be ready for snorkelers within a month. Given that tourism is key to the region's economy, generating approximately $700 million a year, the people of the Whitsundays are keen to dispel the myth that they are closed for business. Although some of the key drawcard islands will continue to be out of action in the coming weeks, tour and resort operators are keen to clean up and get on with it, with some encouraging reports that holidaymakers still want to come.
Local cafes and bars have reopened and main water has been restored as the clean-up continues. Although she's had to cancel guests for the next two weeks, including the busy Easter holiday period, Sue Watson who manages an upmarket hillside holiday complex has said that the majority of guests contacted still want to come an she hopes that they follow through on that. Whatever the case, the message from the Whitsundays is that it is back in the game. It's a beautiful, amazing, the best spot in Australia and it has not be blown off the map.