Tourism in­dus­try back and bet­ter than ever be­fore

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS -

THE re­gion’s vis­i­tors are go­ing “nuts” for the Gran­ite Belt with tourism oper­a­tors breath­ing a sigh of re­lief as re­stric­tions ease and op­er­a­tions re­turn to close to nor­mal. Gran­ite Belt Wine Tourism pres­i­dent Martin Cooper said there are plenty of smiles around the re­gion as the num­ber of tourists con­tin­ues to climb.

“The book­ings have been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic,” Mr Cooper said.

“Across the board winer­ies, ac­com­mo­da­tion houses and at­trac­tions have all said vis­i­tors are go­ing nuts.”

With the hard­ship of re­cent months fi­nally tak­ing a back seat, Mr Cooper said he was very re­lieved. “We still have a very long way to go to make up for the month of April and May that we missed,” he said. “But the score is on the board for June, July and Au­gust – and right now it is look­ing pretty smart.”

With the hope of snow on many minds, Mr Cooper said he was ex­pect­ing the in­dus­try to only go up from here.

“If we get snow it will be crazy,” he said. “It is a strug­gle to get a park in town dur­ing the week. That tells us that there are plenty of peo­ple in town mid­week as well as weekends.” With vis­i­tors more eager than ever, Filippo’s Tours owner Burt Lan­caster said it was a “heart­en­ing” sight.

En­ter­ing their third week­end of op­er­a­tion since be­ing given the all-clear on June 13, Mr Lan­caster said it had been noth­ing but smooth sail­ing.

“It has been very busy – lots of in­quiries and book­ings,” Mr Lan­caster said.

He said while it was wel­come news for the re­turn of tours, im­ple­ment­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­quire­ments had proven a dif­fi­cult task.

“The big­gest prob­lem we are fac­ing is the num­ber of peo­ple that restau­rants can seat at a time,” he said.

“We can also only fill our buses up to about 50 to 60 per cent ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date so­cial dis­tanc­ing.”

But he said he was grate­ful to have the doors open again.

“Once things re­turn to full ca­pac­ity we will be able to get back into the swing of things prop­erly again,” Mr Lan­caster said. As of July 10, the state will en­ter the fi­nal stage of re­laxed re­stric­tions with in­ter­state travel per­mit­ted and a max­i­mum of 100 peo­ple gath­er­ings in pub­lic spa­ces, venues and homes.

Pic­ture: Con­trib­uted

BIG SMILES: The team from Sym­phony Hill Wines are ec­static to be back in op­er­a­tion.

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