LISA WILKINSON: Well, much needed relief for Cyclone Debbie-ravaged Queensland this morning with the Federal Government announcing five million dollars in funding to help rebuild.
BEN FORDHAM: Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo joins us right now from Hamilton Island. Lucky you Minister. Good morning to you. How's everyone coping there? The main message today, we're back on track, right?
STEVEN CIOBO: Exactly Ben and look since I've arrived I've been speaking to local operators, speaking to local workers that are part of the Whitsundays tourism industry here. I mean we've got about ten thousand jobs that rely on the tourism industry here in the Whitsundays including places like Airlie Beach, and they want Australians to know that they are open for business. Check of course with your accommodation provider but these guys are so resilient they are bouncing back strongly and I've got to say that they have done an outstanding job at getting the place cleaned up, ready for Aussies to come back and have their Easter and winter holidays here in the Whitsundays.
LISA WILKINSON: So Minister how long will it be before these various areas are actually up and running, can people go there now?
STEVEN CIOBO: Look, absolutely Lisa. Here on Hamilton Island they have reopened to guests and they've got guests that are staying with them right now. In other locations, that's why I say just check with your accommodation provider because in some instances a couple of buildings have been damaged and so for those guys it's going to take a bit longer but the vast bulk of the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach, those locations they're open; they want guests. The best way that Aussies can show their support for other Aussies that have just been through a difficult time is to make sure that they put their money where their mouth is – take that Easter holiday. Take that break over the winter period and come back and support the Whitsundays tourism industry.
BEN FORDHAM: No doubt about it. So accessible as well, Hamilton Island. One of the great things there Minister is that the locals, all of the workers, they've all be pitching in and making sure that the island is back and ready for business.
STEVEN CIOBO: That's exactly right and I mean the thing about North Queenslanders, Ben as you know, they're a pretty resilient mob. These guys, coupled with some of the money that the federal and state governments are going to be tipping in, I have no doubt they are going to bounce back bigger and better than ever before.
LISA WILKINSON: Minister, did you have an update on how Hayman Island is going because that got pretty badly damaged.
STEVEN CIOBO: Look it did. I spoke with some senior execs from Hayman Island only last week Lisa, they're still assessing where exactly they are. Hayman Island itself will be under wraps for a little bit longer yet while they still do some repair work, so that's going to be off the market just for little while but we've got the case where Hamilton Island, where Airlie Beach where a whole range of other accommodation providers through the Whitsundays – they are back in operation. They are back open for business.
BEN FORDHAM: All right, you just position yourself there at that beautiful qualia Resort until further notice. We'll come back to you on a weekly basis for the next couple of months, okay?
LISA WILKINSON: Just so you can personally oversee it.
STEVEN CIOBO: I'll make sure the pina colada's are out of the way.
BEN FORDHAM: Steven Ciobo, the Tourism Minister, and well done to the Minister and the federal government for getting right behind Hamilton Island. They need it.
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