Changing Ekka public holiday long weekend could boost tourism industry

It’s the midweek holiday Queenslanders look forward to each and every year.

But the Ekka public holiday could be moved to a Friday day off instead, offering the state an extra long weekend which would benefit tourism operators.

While the Ekka, Queensland’s largest annual event, was cancelled in 2020 – residents were told they’d still be given the Wednesday public holiday.

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Speaking to ABC Radio Brisbane, tourism operator Bernie O’Keefe, who runs Tangalooma Island Resort, said making the midweek public holiday into a long weekend would be huge help to the industry.

“When you get a long weekend you often do an extra trip to the Gold Coast or to North Stradbroke Island for that weekend,” he said.

“We think it would make a major difference to tourism operators compared to a midweek break.”

Mr O’Keefe said the move to change the date would allow the industry to start clawing back at the millions lost to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had to stand down more than 300 people and we’ve refunded millions of dollars to customers who had bookings,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“It’s been absolutely devastating to the resort and it’s being played out right across the state.”

Queensland Deputy Premier Steve Miles said he’d be open to the date change despite enjoying the midweek day off.

“If people feel strongly about it we can have a talk about it,” he said.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the idea to move the date was worth considering because he felt Queenslanders will be given more relaxed restrictions around travel by then.

“I think it would give us an additional incentive to turn the dreams we’ve all had over the last few months of travelling into reality,” he told the Courier Mail.

“We’ve lost the Ekka so we’re not anchored to that anymore and assuming the holiday still goes ahead we might as well try to make a long weekend for Brisbane people.”

Social media users were quick to defend the date, urging Queensland to keep the public holiday midweek.

“Leave it as is!” one person wrote. “Everybody wants to change dates to suit them leave it alone.”

“We should not be overconfident and ruin what’s been achieved, perseverance is the key,” another added.

“I like taking two days off for a 5 day holiday and not having every man and his dog choking the highway,” another said.

Earlier today, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government will be reviewing the opening of borders each month, but for the time being they will remain closed to anyone outside the state.

“Let’s take a realistic look here, we’ve only just opened cafes and restaurants to 10 people,” she said.

“We are saying to people in the second stage you can travel 250km from where you live, then in the third stage we are saying you can travel anywhere around Queensland.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said the state’s border closure was “totally confusing”.

“Queensland could lose millions of tourists and tens of thousands of jobs because of the chaos caused by the Premier’s mixed messages,” she said.

“The State Government’s road map told Queenslanders that interstate borders will open in July and that’s what should happen.”

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