The truth about the Whitsundays' recovery.
A recent story on 60 Minutes about the Whitsunday Islands was not a balanced look at Island resorts on the Whitsunday Coast, says Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler.
"It was unethical, unbalanced journalism, nothing short of a ratings grab. The story showed no regard for the people behind the industry and the thousands that work hard and invest to promote this magical part of the world,” she added.
“While it could have been a sad disheartening story the fact of the matter is, the Whitsundays have relished in the re-opening of some of the most iconic island resorts following major refurbishments and redevelopment such as Daydream Island and Hayman Island.”
Daydream Island's new infinity pool. Image: Tourism Whitsundays
While reporter Charles Wooley seemed happy to disparage the state of tourism in the Whitsundays, it also seemed that he did not bother to contact the region's tourism board for fact-checking or comment. Interestingly, Mr Wooley would have passed many of these amazing new developments on his way to scoping out the damage to South Molle Island – which, on a calm day, a relatively strong swimmer could easily reach from the beautifully re-developed Daydream Island.
A statement released by Tourism Whitsundays clears up a few facts 60 Minutes ignored:
- Starting the year off was a multi-million-dollar investment made by the owners of new resort Elysian Retreat on Long Island.
- Daydream Island Resort opened in April following a $120m+ redevelopment.
- Last week Hayman Island by InterContinental re-opened after the $135m development.
- Not to mention the continued commitment and investment by Hamilton Island Enterprises which has seen in excess of $500m being invested over the past 10 years.
- South Molle Island was purchased by CCIG Investments, the same company that owns and redeveloped Daydream Island Resort. The clean up on South Molle has begun.
- Lindeman Island has proposed huge redevelopment, three new resorts, 325 suites and villas – all with a proposed total development cost of $583m.
- Lacking in last nights’ story was that seven resorts on islands across the region are open and looking incredible in the Whitsundays, which is more than what was open prior to March 2017.
- The Whitsundays has a diverse range of wonderful island resorts to suit everyone’s holiday needs from the ease of self-catering to exclusive, from couples only to family friendly.”
“Another disappointing factor is that over the past six months, joint marketing activity with Tourism Whitsundays and many other key partners has focused on a number of promotions on key news channels promoting the return of the Whitsunday Islands. With the promise of promoting the region, reminding people that the island resorts are up and running, the mainland and islands are full of amazing experiences for holiday makers to come and enjoy. The disappointment felt at the same network running a ‘beat-up’ story that wasn’t entirely factual was crushing. Particularly given the fact that the positive information surrounding the Whitsunday Islands is not a hidden fact,” said Ms Wheeler.
Newly reopened Hayman Island resort. Image: Tourism Whitsundays
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox was also shocked by the report.
“It is unfair on our hard-working tourism industry that a program like 60 Minutes reported such a one-sided story leaving out glaring facts like the reopening of Daydream Island and Hayman island,” he said.
“Our tourism industry deserves better and it is basically unAustralian for a media outlet to decide on an agenda that suits their storyline rather than present the true facts.
“The fact is that we now have seven resorts on islands open across the Whitsunday region most recently with Elysian Retreat, Daydream and Hayman island all welcoming guests.
Aquazure pool at Hayman Island. Image: Tourism Whitsundays
While the cyclone certainly caused extensive damage to the island and the mainland, it did not destroy the spirit of the locals and tourism vendors who valiantly soldiered on in the big wind's wake. Within months, visitors to Airlie Beach and surrounds would barely have known a cyclone ripped through it, a point endorsed by the area's success in winning four national titles at the Australian Tourism Awards.
Snorkelling at Elysian Retreat. Image: Tourism Whitsundays
“I am always a proud Mayor when representing the Whitsundays as our tourism stakeholders always excel on the national stage. Red Cat Adventures won Gold for Major Tour and Transport Operators, Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort got Gold for Caravan and Holiday Parks and Whitsunday Escape took out Silver for Unique Accommodation.
“These awards are recognition for the amazing resilience and enthusiasm of our tourism operators and also the industry leadership by Tourism Whitsunday CEO Tash Wheeler and board chair Al Grundy.”
“We are the custodians for a wonderful and unique part of the world, so I am always keen to shout long and loud that the Whitsunday Region is the best tourist destination in the world.”
Elysian Retreat's infinity pool. Image: Tourism Whitsundays
Whitsunday Island Resorts open:
- Palm Bay Resort
- Daydream Island Resort
- Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort
- Hamilton Island
- Elysian Retreat
- Camp Island Lodge
- Whitsunday Apartments Hamilton Island
Elysian Retreat. Image: Tourism Whitsundays
Were you shocked by the 60 Minutes report? Have you recently visited the Whitsundays? How was it?
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