With racing currently being conducted under strict biosecurity measures, organisers of the Birdsville Races and Cairns Amateurs announced earlier on Monday that their iconic events would not be proceeding under patron-free conditions this year.
Despite their absence from this year’s calendar, Queensland Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said racing could play a key role in Queensland’s post-pandemic recovery, with the industry responsible for generating $1.5 billion to the state’s economy per annuum.
“Events such as Birdsville and the Cairns Amateurs extend well beyond the racecourse,” he said.
“They are true highlights on the state’s social calendar - showcasing food, fashion and style and driving significant tourism numbers to each region.
“Every year, the pictures from the Simpson Desert are beamed around the world and the annual pilgrimage has become a bucket list item for so many people.
“With tourism forming part of Queensland’s DNA, racing can play a key role in re-energising our state through events such as Birdsville, the Amateurs and Magic Millions once patrons are safely able to return on-course.”
A recent economic report commissioned by RQ found the Magic Millions generated an incredible 91,104 total visitor nights and $49.8 million of total economic impact, with Queensland’s richest raceday and the yearling sales in January and May contributing to the tourism windfall.
In addition to the Magic Millions, the two-day Amateurs Carnival in Far North Queensland generated 11,110 visitor nights and $3.6 million in direct economic impact, while the iconic Birdsville Races was responsible for 55,872 visitor nights and $5.4 million to the state’s economy.
“Racing and tourism boast a symbiotic relationship which we would like to turbo-charge once patrons can return,” RQ Chairman Steve Wilson AM said.
“In regional Queensland, there are 62 towns whereby racing provides the biggest event in their respective communities each year.
“With more than 60% of Australians planning to take a holiday as restrictions ease, racing is set against the backdrop of the Outback, the Barrier Reef, the beaches and the bush, and we want to encourage as many people as possible to explore our vast state while enjoying our events.”