Cash splash to keep Coast theme parks alive

GOLD Coast theme parks and its zoo will get an immediate $11 million State Government boost to keep staff employed while gates remain closed.

The emergency funding, to be unveiled today, is being freed up straightaway from a $50 million support package announced last month.

The $11 million will be split between Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure and theme park giant Village Roadshow to pay staff, ongoing animal costs and maintain operational capacity of attractions.

Gold Coast theme parks remain closed. Picture: Village Roadshow
Gold Coast theme parks remain closed. Picture: Village Roadshow

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it would be used to keep some of the city's biggest employers operational while they wait for other support from banks and the Federal Government.

"These are some of the biggest employers. I am making sure this funding gets out the door this week to help safeguard jobs during these tough times," she said. "Tourism businesses are doing it tough. It's crucial we work with the private sector to ensure they can get back to businesses soon."

The parks were forced to close in mid-March as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions kicked in. All have since submitted COVID safe plans and the Bulletin understands talks will be held as early as today about reopening plans.

The funding is understood to be separate from a further long-term bridging deal Village CEO Clark Kirby has been negotiating with State Government after last week fuming the parks had not seen a cent of Government's promised support.

Kate Jones Picture: Annette Dew
Kate Jones Picture: Annette Dew

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said theme parks were vital to the Coast's economy - and the Government understood they were business which could not "hibernate".

"They have animals, facilities to maintain and we have always understood that, that's what this ($11m) is for.

"Sea World, Dreamworld, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary - these are names recognised right throughout the world.

"We are working closely with these operators to ensure workers don't lose their jobs.

"Our number one priority is to safeguard jobs and that is why we have prioritised the tourism industry's biggest employers in this fund."

The new, reimagined Sea World on the Gold Coast is still in the works despite COVID. Photo: Village Roadshow Theme Parks.
The new, reimagined Sea World on the Gold Coast is still in the works despite COVID. Photo: Village Roadshow Theme Parks.

The $11m must be used for specific purposes, including wages, reopening of attractions and other supplier costs.

The shutdown is costing theme parks, with Village Roadshow burning an estimated $10-$15 million in monthly costs. Tourism leaders say reopening theme parks is critical to reviving the Gold Coast's $6 billion tourism industry.

Under a State Government road map, theme parks can have a total of 20 guests at a time from this coming Friday and 100 people from July 10.

Gold Coast-based Assistant Tourism Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the funding would give workers certainty we're standing with them through this crisis."

 

 

 

Originally published as Cash splash to keep Coast theme parks alive



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