National parks in the region – including the rainforest of coastal Byfield National Park and Great Keppel Island – were hit, and need to be repaired quickly to prevent the area’s employment from being affected.
According to Clive Cook, executive director of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service's Environmental Recovery Unit, there are still around 100 national parks and protected areas in the region which are closed or damaged.
Concerns over tourism jobs were raised at a Cyclone Marcia Economic Recovery meeting in Brisbane last week, the Brisbane Times reported.
“In that region – the Rockhampton, Yeppoon, Fraser Coast, down to the North Burnett region – there are thousands of tourism jobs,” said Queensland's Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind. “There are 4000 to 5000 jobs there and there could be losses of tourism jobs there. The loss of wages, it could have a real multiplier effect.”
Environment Minister Steve Miles told the Times that Cyclone Marcia travelled directly over Byfield National Park, one the most popular sites on Queensland's national parks estate.
“Capricorn area parks were hardest hit with Byfield National Park being directly in the path of Marcia as the cyclone made landfall,” he said. “We know our parks and forests are important to tourism and people's livelihood. It's a priority to get them reopened and Queensland's Parks and Wildlife Services will be making every effort.”
He added that the focus will be on popular sites, even if it means that just day-use areas can be opened.
Cook added that access to national parks was vital for encouraging tourists back into the region.
“Access is the key and getting access to these places is often pretty epic,” he said.
A spokesperson for Queensland Government Minister Kate Jones said that Jones is due to meet with local businesses and operators to discuss the state and resilience of the tourism industry.
A senior figure in the Australia’s tourism industry has said that thousands of jobs could be lost on the Capriconia Coast in the aftermath of Cyclone Marcia.