Queensland tourism provider pivots during international travel ban

02.06.2020 Richelle Ward

This story is part of a series of interviews, by the ECA, with exporters that have been affected by COVID 19.

With travel restrictions within our states and territories destined to be eased in the not too distant future, there is an excitement in the air that only comes while planning your next adventure. The push to get us travelling within Australia could see us fall in love with our lucky country all over again.


Owner/Director of Port Douglas-based fishing charter East Coast Angling Nick Milford says we are realising that we may have dropped the ball when it comes to focusing on the domestic market before the current health crisis.

“The problem has been that while Australians like to travel, we don’t do it locally. Domestic travel as the only option might be just what we need to change the mindset of travellers and we hope the federal government realise how important this is for our tourism sector,” said Mr Milford.

Topwater and Saltwater Fly fishing are only two of the options available when booking the ultimate fishing adventure on one of East Coast Angling’s boats. And clients could just not get enough.

“Our clients absolutely love it – we see grown men acting like five-year-old boys the night before Christmas, they get that excited. They see sharks, stingrays, and dugongs so it’s a wonderful visual experience.”

“Our style of fishing promotes sustainable practices and is extremely physical due to throwing heavy lures and winding them back aggressively. Topwater fishing means fish don’t get the Barotrauma, so the fish will survive the throwback”
Mr Milford said.

Before COVID-19, Milford spent three weeks travelling around the US fishing tradeshow circuit and with more than 30 committed bookings and plans to purchase a $2.5M mothership upon his return, things were looking good.

“East Coast Angling trips were booked at least a year ahead with a mix of clientele from the US, South East Asia and Europe. Clients would fly in and board our mothership for a week of unforgettable adventure before departing back to their home country. We make memories that keep them coming back” Mr Milford said.

East Coast Angling is looking forward to coming out of hibernation when the restrictions are lifted and sharing their adventures with Australian clients on their one day or weeklong trips. To help ease some of the financial costs, Mr Milford would like to see the cost and number of park permits eased during this time, with state and federal permits costing close to $10,000 per year.

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