COVID-19 has taken an immense toll on households, businesses, and governments both domestically and globally. For the Australian economy, one of the most heavily impacted industries has been the tourism sector, particularly in north Queensland, which may take years to recover.
For the first time in the Sunshine State, the government is offering vouchers to bolster and support the tourism industry, specifically in the Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) region. If you’ve been lucky enough to secure one of these Queensland travel vouchers, here is a guide to what the voucher offer includes, how to redeem it, and what sort of incredible experiences are on offer—at a discounted price!
Why Tropical North Queensland?
TNQ has an area of over 1,700,000 square kilometres, with five of Australia’s eleven World Natural Heritage areas, including the Wet Tropics (and Daintree National Park), and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: the Great Barrier Reef.
Before COVID-19, more than 800,000 foreign tourists visited the region every year and contributed more than $1 billion to its economy. However, with international borders currently closed, a third of this area’s visitor economy has essentially been wiped out.
According to the Queensland Government, the Cairns Holiday Dollars initiative could generate an extra visitor spend of up to $14 million for the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region. This will safeguard tourism industry jobs, keep local businesses afloat, and grow the state’s domestic visitor base into the future.
The Queensland travel vouchers are currently restricted to TNQ, but premier Anna Palaszczuk has hinted that if successful, they may extend this to the rest of the state.
About the Queensland travel vouchers
15,000 Queenslanders over the age of eighteen will now have received their free $200 travel voucher, which was allocated via a random “lottery” draw. Those who were successful, were advised of the outcome on Monday 15th March via email and should have received their voucher by email and SMS on that same day.
The voucher can be spent on booking tourism experiences in TNQ between the 15th of March and the 25th of June this year, subject to operator availability. They give travellers the chance to go on tours and experience some of the area’s attractions, with 50% of the cost covered, up to the value of $200.
Tourism experiences refer to things like guided tours, adventure and day spa experiences, scenic flights, boat or bus tours, Great Barrier Reef experiences, and entry to zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, galleries and exhibitions. The TNQ region covers Cardwell in the south, north to the Torres Strait and west to the Northern Territory border. It includes popular locations like Port Douglas, Cooktown, Mission Beach, and the Atherton Tablelands.
How to redeem yours
If you were lucky enough to secure a voucher, now comes the fun part! Some of the best deals in the state are available on this website. Take your time to browse through all the amazing experiences available and then contact the relevant operator to book. But don’t leave it too long, as although you are able to book prior to the 25th June, deals are subject to operator availability and are booking out fast. It’s also worth mentioning that vouchers aren’t transferable, so it’s recommended that you spend as close to $200 as possible.
When you are in the region, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for businesses that display the Good to Go stamp — this stamp shows that they are open, have the required COVID-safe protocols in place, and are ready to welcome visitors. It’s time to explore like never before!
Where to go in Tropical North Queensland
So with your $200 voucher in hand and a rough itinerary in mind, what are some of the region’s top sites?
A laid-back and vibrant city, Cairns is perfect for the urban traveller, and includes shopping at the morning markets, swimming in the sparkling Esplanade Lagoon, and enjoying a sunset drink on one of the city’s view-filled rooftop bars. If your idea of a relaxing holiday involves connecting with nature, take a guided tour to learn about the local Indigenous culture or explore the rainforest with Kuku Yalanji people at the Mossman Gorge Centre, an hour north of Cairns.
To the north, Port Douglas is renowned for its shopping, sophisticated dining and sprawling untouched beaches. Recently awarded a world-first Ecotourism Australia ECO Destination Certification, the region also now has over 80% of its land protected under World Heritage listing.
Great Barrier Reef
The world’s largest coral reef system (and one of the world’s best diving spots) is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres. Choose from various reef tours, including via ferry transfer, which depart from both the Cairns and Port Douglas marinas.
If a rainforest adventure is more your thing, consider a day trip from Cairns to explore the oldest rainforest on the planet. In fact, the Daintree is so old, it dates back to prehistoric times (great inspiration for those who have dinosaur-obsessed little ones). Spanning 1,200 square kilometres, consider some boat travel that will take you over the Daintree River towards Cape Tribulation, and spend your time exploring this area’s breath-taking surrounds.
Ancient rainforest, crystal clear crater lakes, history, food, wildlife, rugged outback scenery and more, the Atherton Tablelands is an area of stunning beauty, incredible contrast, and amazing exploration. And let’s not forget the spectacular waterfalls, including the Millaa Millaa Falls, which is one of this area’s most famous.
- 2021, $200 travel vouchers for Qlders holidaying in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Government
- 2021, It’s time to redeem your Cairns Holiday Dollars, queensland.com
- 2021, Cairns Holiday Dollars FAQs, queensland.com
- William Jolly, 2021, Queenslanders can now get $200 travel vouchers, savings.com.au
- 2021, Great Barrier Reef Weather & Ocean Temperatures, Travel Online
- 2021, Cairns Travel Guide, Nomadic Matt