TOURISM SUPPORT

April 6, 2021 Sharon Purcell

April 6 2021

TOURISTS aren’t the only income stream for aviation business, Gold Coast Helitours, but prior to COVID19, tourists provided 95% of the small businesses income.

The impact of the 2019 pandemic was dramatic and swift.

“On January 27, 2019, we went from hero to zero overnight from COVID and we’re still struggling to get back on our feet,” business owner, Scott Menzies said.

“A lot of companies are in the same boat especially in the tourism sector and luckily we’ve been able to diversify at Gold Coast Helitours but we’re still down about 80% on our overall income.”

Gold Coast Helitours has been operating for over 30 years and at the time of the pandemic outbreak had been riding a wave of record international tourists arriving on the glitter strip.

The closure of international and national borders crippled the business and this week’s lockdown has stopped trade again for Mr Menzies and other frustrated business owners.

A $2 million Queensland government announcement last week means Small tourism business operators struggling with the COVID19 recovery phase can now access free specialised financial counselling as they rebuild.

The funding is designed to support Queensland’s $28 billion tourism sector as JobKeeper wraps up.

The Southern Queensland Small Business Financial Counselling Program is delivered by Rural Solutions Incorporated and has been granted funding for two Tourism Small Business Counsellors which expands the organisation’s existing Small Business program.

CEO, Jenny Whip said COVID19 shutdowns had a dramatic effect on the tourism sector, “The pandemic put a lot of pressure on the entire business community but the tourism sector has certainly been on the front line.”

“These new roles funded by the Queensland government will complement our existing Financial Counselling programs for rural and small business owners in Southern Queensland, allowing us to support business owners to recover, plan and rebuild.”

Gold Coast Small Business financial counsellor, Felicity Sansom-Gower said tourism businesses on the Gold Coast have been heavily impacted.

“The industry is feeling the impacts of the loss of international travellers and the downturn in domestic tourism as a result of the international pandemic.

“The funding will enable small businesses to access free, impartial, confidential financial counselling.

“They can take a good look at their books, investigate options for the businesses moving forward and actually make changes happen for a brighter future,” she said.

Gold Coast Helitours was shut down for six months in total but owner, Scott Menzies is determined to remain viable and is looking to the future.

“A service like the Small Business Financial Counselling Program that can provide support for government benefits and bank negotiations is essential.

“Financial Counselling can’t tell you how to run your business but you’d be able to look at ways of keeping on top of your financial situation and have access to loans and government grants that can help move a business forward.

For more information please contact the Small Business Financial Counselling Service on 1300 732 777 or visit www.rfcssq.org.au.