Talk of flood scares away tourists

THE sun is shining, the forecast is good and tourism operators should be in for a bumper Easter break.

But bookings are down and holiday makers are cancelling their visits to Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast, says Capricorn Enterprise chief executive Mary Carroll.

And she said a stream of constant publicity about the Fitzroy River flood was to blame.

Yesterday she said hotels and resort operators had more vacancies for Easter than last year when the region was still in recovery mode after the floods.

"Our community leaders have a responsibility to keep us informed about the predictions for the river height," she said.

"However, I want to call upon the media and leaders to realise that the peak holiday time for our region is just around the corner.

"It is alarming that we are seeing cancellations because of all the information about the flood peak."

Inge Pedersen, owner of the Sail Inn Motel in James St, Yeppoon, said yesterday she took three cancellations.

"It's all over the media in the south-east that Rockhampton is going to be flooded this weekend. We have had a very slack week because of all this talk about flooding and I think people are being fed the wrong information."

Ms Carroll said there had been overkill with daily press conferences and television coverage.

"The roads are fine, rail is fine, the airport is fine and there's no threat to any of our transport links, but there is a perception out there that we are going to have a flood like the one in 2010-11."

Mayor Brad Carter has held a media briefing every morning for more than a week even though the Bureau of Meteorology revised down its prediction of the Fitzroy peak in Rockhampton from its original warning of 8.0 metres or more.

The bureau said earlier this week that the river would not get beyond 7.5 metres and then on Wednesday announced that the peak would be 7.3 metres in the early hours of this morning.

Although the bureau's advice has been accurately reported by local media outlets, including The Morning Bulletin, and the reporting has been far from alarmist, Ms Carroll was convinced that the daily pronouncements after meetings of the Local Disaster Management Group had taken a toll.

"We have to get the message out there that the region will be a great place to visit over the Easter break."

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