More than one million tourists headed west so far this year, as part of Year of Outback Tourism.
More than one million tourists headed west so far this year, as part of Year of Outback Tourism.

Millions head west as tourism business booms

NO longer just grey nomads on the highway, families and adventurers are now exploring western Queensland in campervans or opting to set up camp in free sites along the way.

Visitors to the Mureweh Shire towns are bringing hope and support to teh communities as the extreme drought conditions continue to bite hard.

HEADING WEST:

Murweh Shire Council mayor Annie Liston said small towns would not survive without visitors, something that has boosted the outlook for businesses and communities.

“The advertising and publicity this year from the state and federal government has been phenomenal in encouraging people to go to Outback Queensland,” she said.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said a record 1.07 million tourists visited Outback Queensland in the year ending June 2019 according to the latest data released by Tourism Research Australia.

Cr Liston said the face of tourism in the region was changing from the typical grey nomads to families taking their children on the road. International travellers also had an appetite for outback tourism, spurred on by educational experiences like the Cosmos Centre.

“We know Cosmos tours are up by 14 per cent on this time last year, so there’s certainly been an increase in travellers,” she said.

“We’re always looking for new products, and with the recent completion of the planetarium and the World War Two Top Secret exhibition, these will attract more patrons.”

Cr Liston said tourism was critical to ensuring a thriving community.

“We need people to keep on coming and experiencing what our towns have to offer, especially with businesses experiencing a tough downturn with the drought.

“People here have so many amazing stories to share, and I love walking down the street and welcoming people to our town, I think we all do, and I’m optimistic that our towns will recover.”

“Tourism is crucial to jobs growth in Queensland. That’s why we’re investing in this industry and working with operators to attract more tourists to our state,” she said.

“Tourism employs one in ten Queenslanders – more people than the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries combined.”

GATEWAY TO THE OUTBACK:

Maranoa Regional Council Portfolio Chair for Tourism councillor Puddy Chandler said a recent industry conference highlighted huge potential growth in travellers who “carry their own bed” when traversing the region.

“Camping and caravan parks will feature heavily in plans for tourism in the future and industry will adapt to these trends,” she said.

Tourism figures for outback Queensland have cracked the one million mark as regional areas are put in the spotlight as part of the state government’s 2019 year of outback tourism.

Cr Chandler said the region had experienced a strong season, with accommodation providers and hotels also benefiting from the boost in overnight stays.

Major investment in the iconic Big Rig is hoped to entice families to start their travels in the Maranoa.

The almost $3 million upgrades will see a Bigger Big Rig constructed with a tree walk, observation tower and zip line.

“Many of our communities have been struggling with the drought but tourism in the region is something we can hang our hat on and it’s a big part of our lives here,” she said.

“We want the new Big Rig attraction to be the anchor for visitors to go to first, and stay a night in the Maranoa, before making their way in a number of directions,” she said.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said a record 1.07 million tourists visited Outback Queensland in the year ending June 2019 according to the latest data released by Tourism Research Australia.

“Tourism is crucial to jobs growth in Queensland. That’s why we’re investing in this industry and working with operators to attract more tourists to our state,” she said.

“Tourism employs one in ten Queenslanders – more people than the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries combined.”

ALONG THE RIVER

Balonne Shire mayor Richard Marsh said as well as promoting the regions to boost tourism, they were working to secure grants and development projects to support the community.

“Yes, we are in drought and we are doing it tough, but we are open for business and we would lvoe to have you visit, support our businesses and have a real western experience,” he said.

“We are still ehre, ready to share our great features and look forward to the ongoing visitation of those who want to see and experience the ‘real Australia’.”


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