Queensland job hopes rest on tourism

Snorkelling at Green Island is a drawcard for tourists in northern Queensland.
Snorkelling at Green Island is a drawcard for tourists in northern Queensland.

A tourism revival may offset coal mining job losses as Queensland grapples with the highest unemployment in almost a decade.

While Western Australia, the other mining-rich state, has enjoyed a fall in unemployment, the story is very different in the Sunshine State, where 8900 jobs were lost in June.

Still, Commonwealth Bank economist Diana Mousina says, Queensland is in a better position than WA, as liquefied natural gas (LNG) construction at Curtis Island provides work for at least four more years.

"That iron ore story has peaked whereas the Queensland story is going to be supported by LNG."

A fall in the Australian dollar, possibly below US90c, could also drive a recovery in tourism following "a few better months".

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind is expecting local resort stays to "possibly" become dearer, as more Australians holiday locally.

"That will be months away," he said. "There are, maybe, some weekends, holiday periods where that may be evident but we would have spare capacity still in most of our destinations."

Tourism Tropical North Queensland boss Rob Giason says Cairns is bustling again, while Phil Warring, head of sales at Cairns-based tour firm Tourstogo, is reporting a spike in sales. Sharada Van Min, a director of luxury rainforest lodge Silky Oaks in far north Queensland, says more Americans are visiting.

Meanwhile, Queensland is dealing with the highest jobless rate since October 2003, with June's unemployment level surging by half a percentage point to 6.4 per cent.

"I don't think it's going to stay at that 6.4 level. It will probably stay around 6, 6.1. I think it was just a volatile spike," Mousina said.

"It's not to say that there haven't been quite high-profile job losses in the state, especially in the mining sector, but I do think it was a one-off."

Swiss multinational Glencore Xstrata in June cut 450 jobs at its Newlands and Oaky Creek coal mines in the Bowen Basin, while Brazilian resources giant Vale announced it would sell its Degulla coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

This week, Australia's largest organic chicken producer, Inglewood Farms in Queensland, was put into receivership, owing at least A$60 million and leaving 100 people out of work.


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