Welcome boost for industry on its knees
HOTEL and tourism operators in the region are counting their lucky stars with intrastate travel in Queensland coming at a critical juncture.
After the sector was brought to its knees from travel bans, the Premier’s announcement Sunday to push stage two restrictions forward to midday today has already seen benefit.
Lake Callide Retreat caretaker Stephen Laughton said that the capacity of people staying at the retreat has jumped form two per cent to 20 per cent in a matter of days, after reopening on Saturday for outback shire travellers.
“We’ve had people from Rockhampton, Roma and further outback starting to move around more and come here,” Mr Laughton said.
“Already we’ve got the four out of the five cabins booked in the next few days and
we have another four vans the next few days and people booking in for a week at a time starting next week which is great.
“We’ve seen people that have had time on their hands from Biloela have found us when they didn't know we were here.
So it looks like we will get an influx of people coming that prior to COVID-19 didn't know when we here.”
From midday today, Queenslanders will be able to enjoy unrestricted travel throughout the state including multiple night stays.
The State Government said the move effectively made Queensland its own “travel bubble” and would be a lifeline for the tourism sector.
Sun Valley Motel owner Leon Christiansen said that the hotel has seen two weeks operating at 50 per cent capacity at a time of year when the Callide Power Station shutdown would see that number swell to around 90 per cent.
“When this started in April we had all our rooms full for the power station shutdown and that got cancelled,” Mr Christiansen said.
“We’d be cranking up right now with work for the power station and general work that happens in the area.
“Now that the State has opened up, hopefully there’s more of a push for attractions in Sandstone Wonders and getting people to travel and camp in the region which I think will happen naturally.
“This announcement will have a bigger positive affect for caravan parks for those coming from the south as the weather gets cooler here for holiday.”
Mr Laughton said that until interstate travel returns, tourism operators will need to rally Queenslanders to support their industry.
“As well as the nomads in the winter, we noticed that from last year a lot of people travel through Queensland support their state,” Mr Laughton said.
“We’ve got to wait on the borders reopening and that will see natural progression north.
“Our best hope is a lot of the Queenslanders support Queenslanders whether its us or other sites
“We were hoping this would happen and now that it has we are doing a happy dance.”
Mr Christiansen added that operating at per cent is enough to get by but the pandemic has seen him reassessing the future of the hotel.
“There’s a long way to go yet but it’s going to put us back five years maybe from where we’ve gotten to,” Mr Christiansen said.
“We will have to borrow another $150,00- $200,000 just to get by.
“There’s so much more that should be focused on regional Australia and I hope that comes out of this.
“A lot of people would like to see more infrastructure, facilities and focus on these regional areas.”