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Shift of Ekka holiday to October a ‘mixed blessing’ for some venues

The move to create a long weekend in October by shifting the Ekka public holiday has been hailed by most tourism operators but viewed as a “mixed blessing” by other venues.

The Queensland government announced on Tuesday the Ekka holiday would be shifted to Friday, October 29, after the Royal Queensland Show was cancelled for a second year due to a COVID-19 outbreak in southeast Queensland.

The Royal Queensland Show, commonly called the Ekka, was cancelled for a second year running in 2021.

The Royal Queensland Show, commonly called the Ekka, was cancelled for a second year running in 2021. Credit:Bradley Kanaris

The change of date will affect almost 2 million Queenslanders living in the Brisbane, Moreton Bay and Scenic Rim council areas, and the government hopes people will use the long weekend as an opportunity to go on a holiday within southeast Queensland.

The reaction from the tourism and hospitality industry has been mostly positive, however the Queensland Hotels Association said that while it viewed the announcement positively, it had a potential sour note for venue operators.

That’s because Friday is a major trading day for licensed venues, and they will now be required to pay their staff public holiday rates.

“Friday is not ideal, it is a big trading day anyway, which is why Monday public holidays are more palatable,” QHA chief executive Bernie Hogan said.

“It’s expensive for the hospitality industry anyway on a public holiday, so then to have it on a day that is traditionally a high trading day, it’s eating into their profitability.”

Mr Hogan stressed that the QHA was not totally unhappy with the proposed long weekend, which would definitely boost income to the sector.

“I would say it’s a mixed blessing,” he said. “We hope that it works as well as it did last year. We do believe it was a real shot in the arm last year, and we hope it will be again.”

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