August 5, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier
Fraser Coast Tourism & Events (FCTE) has postponed all events associated with the region’s annual whale season festival to September dates yet to be announced.
Opening events, the Blessing of the Fleet and the Whale Parade and Concert, which were supposed to run last weekend, were called off as the South East Queensland lockdown was announced, placing stay-at-home orders on residents of 11 local government areas, including the Sunshine Coast which is the neighbouring LGA for the Fraser Coast.
Many suppliers for the Seafood Festival originally scheduled to run this weekend come from the locked down areas including Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Thirty percent of tickets already sold for the event were from outside of the region said FCTE General Manager Martin Simons, with the majority coming from South East Queensland.
“By postponing we give these people the opportunity to come when it is safe,” he said.
“The decision, not made lightly, was made with community safety at top of mind.
“Given the traffic on the highway travelling north after the lockdown announcement on Saturday, we do not think it is wise to be staging large events or encouraging further travel.
“Most accommodation houses are refusing bookings from people within the lockdown zones, but day trippers make up the biggest sector of annual Fraser Coast visitation and these people are totally unmonitored while in region.”
Simons said he was concerned that thousands of people appeared to have ignored advice of health officials and headed north on Bruce Highway to escape the lockdown.
“Some of these people are calling our accommodation venues. These are the ones we know about. Half of all visitors to the Fraser Coast in a year (more than 1.8 million people) are day trippers.
“It is tough on the local community, but the postponement calls were made to ensure we weren’t providing an incentive for people in lockdown to make the trip and be standing cheek and jowl with locals.”