Hamilton Island among resort closures as travel industry weathers virus

Hamilton Island is one of the islands closing.
Hamilton Island is one of the islands closing.

Major resorts and hotels including the multi-billionaire Oatley family’s flagship Hamilton Island in Queensland’s Whitsundays have closed, while Malaysian gaming giant Mulpha has shut its newly refurbished ultra-luxe InterContinental Hayman Island as the spread of COVID-19 continues apace.

Further down the Queensland coast, the listed Sealink has also shut its newly acquired Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island off Harvey Bay.

Mulpha Australia chief executive Greg Shaw said it was “irresponsible” to keep the 170-suite Hayman Island open, given airlines were ceasing flights to the ­region.

“Once Hamilton closed it was not viable for us to continue to open because of the virus,” Shaw told The Australian.

“We are just waiting until the government changes its travel policies before we re-open.”

Senior tourism executives expect most major resorts to shut, saying it is not viable to trade at less than 10% occupancy.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Island Enterprises chief executive Glenn Bourke says the island has been thrust into a situation that was never contemplated, never wanted and could never have been prepared for.

“What we must do now is act. Act to protect ourselves individually first and foremost, then act to protect our families, friends, peers and businesses,” says Bourke in a letter obtained by The Australian.

“We have now closed the doors to all guests and are reducing the overall population of the island in order to better deal with the inevitable health issues we are bound to see.

“I believe that it is in all of our best interests, for the population on the island to reduce. As such, Hamilton Island Enterprises recommends that residents reconsider their need to remain on island and where possible vacate the island and relocate to alternative accommodation where they would be in closer proximity to comprehensive medical facilities.

“This week we will see the cancellation of all airline and ferry services. It is not known at this stage how many barges per week will be operating to the island, but residents will not be able to travel back on forth on them.”

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.