Stradbroke Island wiped out as 500 lose their jobs
HALF of idyllic North Stradbroke Island's workforce have lost their jobs as every holiday home in the island paradise sits empty and business close their doors.
Heartbreaking data from the tourist mecca's chamber of commerce has revealed 850 workers have been critically impacted by COVID-19 after non-essential services were cut and the island was locked down to visitors.
Straddie Chamber of Commerce president Colin Battersby said 500 people had lost their jobs completely while 350 workers had experienced a "tragic decrease in pay" as a result of reduced working hours.
He said before the COVID-19 pandemic the island had employed about 1000 workers.
Mr Battersby, who also runs a real estate agency on the island, said absence of the Easter rush meant the loss of revenue from about 10,000 visitors.
He said every holiday home he catered for had also been left empty at what should be the busiest time of year.
"It's a disaster really, and with no end in sight.
"On the Easter weekend I was walking around Point Lookout and there wasn't anyone.
"Usually there's more than 10,000 people here at Easter and now there is zero.
"It's like Stradbroke Island was 40 years ago when I came here as kid."
Meanwhile, the tourism season without any tourists has forced a heartbreaking decisions for a multitude for hardworking Stradbroke Island businesses.
Owner of beloved Straddie homewear store Noreen's Seaside Shop Kerri Burns said she closed the doors to her shop at Point Lookout on March 26, just weeks before the usual boom in tourist trade.
Ms Burns said the store remained trading online and was open to individuals by appointment.
"I'm meeting one of my clients, a local girl... she needs some new cushions."
Noreen's Seaside Shop has been a favourite with locals and returning tourists alike for the past 26 years. Ms Burns bought the store from its namesake and her aunty Noreen three years ago.
She said the economic disaster that is COVID-19 saw her go from booming trade to applying for government assistance.
"I will apply for the JobKeeper payment to help ease my rental arrangements... most likely I'll need to apply for a loan to cover my supplies (which I had ordered) ahead of the tourist trade."
She estimated the recovery period for the island's tourist trade to be two years.
"It is disappointing.
"This was my last hurrah in business.. before retirement."
She said, however, she was grateful for the support of clients online.
"The regulars that would normally come through the islands are saying 'Noreen's, we miss you!'
"I want to ensure that we're there for them when they come back... and that's what's keeping me going."
Originally published as Stradbroke Island wiped out as 500 lose their jobs