7 April, 2021
Kuranda continues to feel COVID pain
THE rainforest village of Kuranda has been one of the hardest hit towns since the COVID pandemic started last year
THE rainforest village of Kuranda has been one of the hardest hit towns since the COVID pandemic started last year.
First there was the closure of international borders, then the state borders as well as the reduced operating hours of the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail.
Easter is usually one of the most important trading times for Kuranda after they come out of the slumber of the wet season and into the first set of school holidays for the year.
Last week’s COVID cluster in Brisbane has meant that many Kuranda businesses now have their backs to the wall, with many interstate travelers spooked about travelling to the Far North.
Property Manager Linda Snart from First National Kuranda has seen a steady increase in the amount of commercial property that have become available over the past 12 months.
“Locally our landlords have stepped up and provided more rent relief than was recommended,” she said.
“Now that rent relief and JobKeeper have come to an end, everybody is struggling.
“A lot of businesses are not sure how they are going to get through the next week, let alone the next few months.”
Ms Snart said many business owners were now choosing to break their lease or not renew their lease now that JobKeeper had come to an end.
“Landlords are now wondering how long they can continue helping their tenants as it could be years before we see international tourists back,” she said.
“We currently have five shops ready to rent on our books now and no interest from anybody in renting them.
“We really need the State Government to step up and help small businesses and landlords. They need to have a look at the support that the Victorian Government has given their landlords.
“There has been very little support from our state government, whereas the federal government rolled out Jobkeeper and Jobseeker.”
Ms Snart said that nobody could have predicted that the pandemic situation was going last this long.
“This time last year businesses started to reduce their hours and the leases that came to the natural end, were not renewed,” she said.
“Now that tourists still haven’t returned a lot of people are now looking at their current lease and wondering if they can stay in business.
“To say that it is tough out there is an understatement.”
President of the Kuranda Traders Association, Dei Gould said that many businesses have chosen to go to smaller cheaper leases or have decided to mothball their business until tourists return.
“A few landlords are allowing pop up shops to open, until business returns to normal,” she said.
“Some days costs are not even being covered for some local businesses and you can’t afford to have too many of those. “Now that JobKeeper has ended its just getting tougher and tougher.”
Instead of financial issues, Dei believes that mental health issues are now on the rise.
“We are seeing people who were doing well, are now completely broken,” she said. “After the Brisbane lockdown, they just don’t know what to do next."