Camp Growl visit.
Camp Growl visit. Russell Prothero

$35 million boost to Rocky

THE Singapore Armed Forces may be in town for training exercises but that hasn't stopped the soldiers from exploring the town while on rest and relaxation.

More than 6000 SAF troops are participating in Exercise Wallaby this year which means thousands of extra people spending big in Rockhampton leading to a boost to the local economy.

The annual exercise is worth a whopping $35 million to Central Queensland's economy and thanks to the region's long, positive relationship of 21 years with the SAF, local accommodation, restaurants and tour providers receive returning annual business.

Capricorn Enterprise chief executive office Mary Carroll said the Singapore Armed Forces were indulging in the tourist actives during their rest and relaxation periods.

The soldiers have made their bookings for activities through Safe2Travel which is a travel wholesale company who have worked with the SAF for well over a decade.

Ms Carroll said while the paid for actives were a hit, free attractions also proved popular.

"As budget is a key consideration for the SAF, local attractions provide discounted group rates and free attractions are popular too,” Ms Carroll said.

"Last Sunday, five bus loads of soldiers visited the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Zoo, with Capricorn Caves also receiving about 280 soldiers on their recent days off.

"Koorana Crocodile Farm has forward bookings for later this month on October 20 to 22.”

Ms Carroll said the SAF soldiers also loved their shopping and air-conditioning, so Stockland did tend to receive a number of SAF visitors roaming around the centre each year.

However not all of the soldiers indulge in group activities while on rest and relaxation with some going sightseeing on their own.

"The SAF officers, because of their ranking, receive a little more freedom, so they tend to visit attractions and places via self drive vehicles,” she said.

"A few of the officers take themselves to Great Keppel Island but the ferry company has received no group bookings... a favourite over the years for the officers has been Ferns Hideaway at Byfield.”

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