Businesses boosted as travellers flock to the region
VISITORS have taken the opportunity to travel through the pandemic, with Central Highlands seeing an influx of travellers.
The region has been awash with visitors, primarily RV owners and caravanners, since coronavirus restrictions significantly eased in Queensland in July.
Emerald’s Visitor Information Centre has welcomed about 1,800 visitors between August 16 to September 15 this year, an increase of almost 37 per cent on the same period in 2019.
Miners Heritage in the Gemfields recorded a 32 per cent increase in takings last month, compared to August 2019.
“We have been flat out since reopening in mid-June and our underground tours are fully booked every day,” owner and operator Kerrie Wilson said.
“I’m just amazed and blown away by the number of people getting out there and seeing our wonderful region.”
Emerald Tourist Park has not recorded an increase compared although the current levels have remained unexpectedly strong.
“Our customer numbers are down from last year and our busy period started a month later than usual this year but, given the travel restrictions and border closures, we are pleasantly surprised that levels are as high as they are,” park manager Sally Knight said.
Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC) Tourism Development Coordinator, Paul Thompson, attributes the situation to border closures and to ongoing work to promote the region as a tourism destination.
“Queenslanders, especially families, who might normally travel interstate or overseas are instead hitting the road to explore their home state,” Mr Thompson said.
“There are also many grey nomads who’d come to Queensland before our borders with New South Wales and Victoria re-closed in August.
“Rather than trying to return home, they decided they’d have a far better time continuing their adventures in the Sunshine State.”
Visitors to the region have been urged to book their tours, dining and accommodation in advance, especially because of coronavirus-related restrictions on customer numbers.
Mr Thompson said the visitor influx had provided a much-needed boost for tourism.
“Like the rest of the world, the pandemic hit our tourism operators hard earlier this year, with many forced to shut down for weeks during what’s normally our busy season,” he said.
“We had braced for the challenging times to continue until at least the end of 2020 so it’s truly been a welcome surprise to see so many drive trippers around the region.”
Consultation sessions will also be held this week to develop a brand story for the Central Highlands, to create greater awareness of the region as a tourism destination.
Session dates, times and locations can be found at chdc.com.au.