Empty Virgin Australia check-in terminal at Brisbane Domestic Airport during Coronavirus restrictions. Picture: Richard Walker
Empty Virgin Australia check-in terminal at Brisbane Domestic Airport during Coronavirus restrictions. Picture: Richard Walker

Qld tourism faces $1.5b hit if Virgin goes down

QUEENSLAND'S battered tourism industry will take another bruising worth almost $1.5 billion if besieged airline Virgin Australia collapses.

As some 240,000 Queensland tourism workers sweat on the hope of a white knight investor rescuing Virgin Australia from the brink of financial ruin, The Courier-Mail can reveal the true impact the airline has on our tourism hot spots.

In January, just before the coronavirus pandemic sent global travel in to meltdown, Virgin was delivering more than 150,000 passengers a week to some of our most sparkling tourism destinations.

The economic impact of the Virgin travellers was worth an estimated $1.5 billion a year to the Queensland economy.

While Brisbane welcomed more than half of Virgin's 966 weekly fights to Queensland in January, more than a dozen other destinations,

including tourism gems such as the Gold Coast, Whitsundays, Cairns and the Sunshine Coast, also featured highly on Virgin's passenger manifests, delivering thousands of visitors to our holiday hot spots.



Tourism officials estimate each Virgin passenger was worth at least $750 to the Queensland economy, while others, including those travelling to luxury resorts in the Whitsundays or on the Great Barrier Reef, would be worth considerably more.

The loss of those tourist dollars comes at the worst possible time for an industry which has already been dealt an estimated $6 billion blow in just a few short weeks since the coronavirus pandemic morphed in to a full-blown economic disaster.

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the impact of Virgin on the state's holiday destinations showed how important it was for multiple carriers to fly Australia's skies.

"The worst possible outcome for our tourism industry would be to go back to a monopoly in our airline industry," she said.

"If that happens, our economic recovery will take years longer."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said Virgin Australia's contribution to the state's tourism businesses was two-fold, with businesses benefiting through direct air connectivity and competitiveness created between the two airlines.

"It has opened up a whole new dimension to regional travelling in Queensland and Australia," he said.

"We should all be grateful for what we've seen over the last 20 years, a strong Qantas and Virgin competition for consumer's favour."

Mr Gschwind said about 240,000 people working in the tourism industry are hopeful the carrier can emerge stronger.


"They're watching this with bated breath," he said.

"There is hope that this is a reboot for Virgin."

Originally published as Qld tourism faces $1.5b hit if Virgin goes down