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Show day becomes go day as 11 councils lock in long weekend

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To allow for a one-off long weekend, in an otherwise disrupted 2020, the Palaszczuk Government will legislate a new public holiday for 11 council areas.

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After major events were cancelled due to the need for social distancing, the Palaszczuk Government gave councils the option of swapping mid-week show holidays for a long weekend. It is expected to provide another boost to regional tourism.

Mackay, Gold Coast, Logan, Rockhampton, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Livingstone, Cloncurry, Weipa councils, and the Bowen part of Whitsunday council areas, have now taken up the offer.

For most, a new August 12 holiday will align with the change of Brisbane’s Ekka Show Holiday from People’s Day to a People’s Long Weekend. The government has been gazetting show holiday cancellations as the dates near, and will legislate next week for the one-off long weekends. It was unclear today whether some councils would have different dates.

In some areas, it made more sense to keep the existing mid-week holiday, for example Redlands on Monday August 10, in order to keep businesses open on the Friday to benefit from any influx of day-trippers and weekenders.

Other councils kept their holidays unchanged. Hinchinbrook considered the lockdown that was in place at the time and sought approval for a different day off, a few months down the track. But as the restrictions eased, and the change proved difficult, the council opted for certainty and kept the existing holiday unchanged.

“We applied to change it to Melbourne Cup Day but we didn’t get the approval in time,” Mayor Ramon Jayo said today.

“As of yesterday, we decided to revert back to June 26.”

Tourism Minister Kate Jones today encouraged Queenslanders to make the most of any long weekends and invest in the state’s economic recovery.

“When they’re turned into long weekends, public holidays generate millions of dollars for local businesses,” Jones said.

“Tourism operators and small businesses need all the help they can get right now.

“It makes sense, where possible, to create as many long weekends as we can to stimulate our economy and keep locals in jobs.”

Jones also announced the government would provide $5 million to 15 Queensland airports to secure new domestic flights. It follows the government’s recent partnership with Whitsundays Regional Council that secured Alliance Airlines flights to fly four times a week between Brisbane and the Whitsunday Coast Airport from June 22.

“We know that tourism operators right across the state are hurting due to COVID-19,” Jones said.

“This funding will allow thousands more Queenslanders to explore their own state and will pump millions of dollars into communities that rely on tourism.”

Interstate travel will remain restricted until at least July 10, however international travel will be limited long-term. The government has also offered to buy a stake in Virgin Australia to keep the airline operating.

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