BRIGHT OUTLOOK: Grant Cassidy says The Edge and Empire are almost at capacity for this weekend, signalling a strong start to the year of big events.
BRIGHT OUTLOOK: Grant Cassidy says The Edge and Empire are almost at capacity for this weekend, signalling a strong start to the year of big events. Sharyn O'Neill ROK120215sempire4

Big events see cash flooding into Rocky businesses

CHRISTMAS may be over, but a huge weekend of entertainment to celebrate the new year is the gift that keeps on giving for Rockhampton accommodation providers.

Grant Cassidy, managing director of Cassidy Hospitality Group, said both The Edge and The Empire were almost fully booked out for the big weekend and were 25 per cent up on where they were in December 2016.

"It's a combination of a lot of good things happening in Rocky,” Mr Cassidy said.

Local boys Busby Marou took to the stage last night at the Rockhampton Showgrounds with Amy Shark, Pandamic and Timberwolf in One Hot Night, which is set to become an annual event.

Local Rocky band Busby Marou start up annual event
Local Rocky band Busby Marou start up annual event "One Hot Night" to thank the fans who shaped their success. Allan Reinikka ROK070917abusbyma

A huge weekend of music and entertainment also kicked off at the Great Western Hotel yesterday, with the inaugural Rockin Rocky running from Friday to Sunday featuring some of Australian country music's biggest names as well as the PBR.

"Christmas was quite strong, a lot of people seem to be coming to Rocky to visit their friends and relatives which is good and what we've seen is some very strong bookings coming in for this week and we're pretty much close to full capacity at both of our hotels for New Year's Eve,” Mr Cassidy said.

Mr Cassidy said many people had booked for last night's Busby Marou gig, with the well-known local duo pulling a huge crowd.

"With Rockin Rocky at the Great Western Hotel, some really great acts are going to be playing there as well and I know lots of people are checking in to make the most of a few good days in town and then top it off with the New Year's Eve celebrations in town,” he said.

New Years Eve fireworks in Rockhampton.
New Years Eve fireworks in Rockhampton. Allan Reinikka ROK311216afirewor

But it's not just this weekend that's proved positive for the city's accommodation.

Mr Cassidy said bookings had picked up over the past six months, really improving on the preceding year.

He said this was something which was being felt throughout the region.

"We've seen more business travellers coming back into the region and we've seen a pick-up in leisure as well,” Mr Cassidy said.

"They're certainly some positive signs. I think we've been through the worst of it and there's plenty of green shoots.

"I'm predicting that 2018 is going to be a pretty good year.”

A great event calendar was key to a steady economy throughout the year.

L-R Lee Kernaghan at the Great Western Hotel.
L-R Lee Kernaghan at the Great Western Hotel. Liam Fahey

And the year will have a huge boost from Beef Australia 2018, with places like The Edge and Empire already close to capacity for the May event.

"If we could have a really good event every month in Rocky, the economic benefit that would flow through the whole town would be really sizeable,” Mr Cassidy said.

"Generally, when there's big events on we fill up. And those people are coming from Gladstone, the Central Highlands, a lot of our neighbouring rural communities and sometimes even as far north as Mackay.

"Events do tend to bring a lot of people to a region and certainly I'm very encouraged to see more focus being put on delivering existing events in a bigger way, but also introducing some new events.

"Events mean there's more people in town and they do shopping, everything from filling up the car with fuel to spending some money buying bits and pieces, going to the movies.

"All of those sorts of things are positive benefits for the city.

"The dollars spread so far through the community and that leads to more employment ... that's the sort of thing we've got to be doing to stimulate the economy.”



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