Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS MCMA­HON chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

AS THOU­SANDS of revheads gear up for this week­end’s Wat­pac Townsville 400, com­mu­nity lead­ers have en­cour­aged the re­gion to “roll out the wel­come mat” in a bid to en­tice visi­tors back to the city.

New Tourism and Events Queens­land fig­ures re­leased ear­lier this week re­vealed last year’s event in­jected $ 34 mil­lion into the lo­cal econ­omy with more than 120,000 vis­i­tor nights recorded.

Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk, who will be in Townsville this week­end for the race, said the Su­per­cars was well es­tab­lished as one of North Queens­land’s must- see events.

“This event con­tin­ues to be a ma­jor draw­card for visi­tors to Townsville and demon­strates that Queens­land has what it takes to host the best events in the best des­ti­na­tions,” she said.

“We un­der­stand the value of this event to the Townsville com­mu­nity, that’s why last year we locked in on­go­ing sup­port for this event for an­other three years un­til 2019.”

Townsville En­ter­prise tourism and events di­rec­tor Brid­get Woods said there was al­ways an en­er­getic at­mos­phere dur­ing the event.

“It’s the time of the year where we have a great buzz in the com­mu­nity,” she said. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing them ( visi­tors).” Ms Woods said an­other bumper crowd was ex­pected to at­tend the event across the week­end. “It’s the per­fect time to advertise Townsville, ev­ery­one can get in­volved,” she said. “Ev­ery­one should be talk­ing up the city and be wel­com­ing. We have the reef, out­back and rain­for­est right on our doorstep.” Su­per­cars chief ex­ec­u­tive James War­bur­ton said an­other strong crowd was ex­pected to at­tend this year’s event in Townsville, with com­pe­ti­tion on the track closer than it had been in re­cent years, and the per­for­mances of Jimmy Barnes and James Reyne tonight draw­ing ma­jor crowds. “We’ve seen the Townsville event grow in pop­u­lar­ity with visi­tors from around Aus­tralia and over­seas since we first be­gan rac­ing there in 2009,” he said. “It has be­come one of the real sig­na­ture events on our cal­en­dar each year and one which visi­tors keep re­turn­ing to, and bring­ing their friends. “The 2016 event re­sults are re­ally pleas­ing to see.” Scott McLaughlin, who drives for Shell V- Power Rac­ing Team, said the Townsville track was al­ways fun. “It’s one of the more tech­ni­cal tracks,” he said. “Street tracks are al­ways tech­ni­cal – es­pe­cially be­cause at the start they’re very dirty with the oil from the cars so it takes a lit­tle bit to get used to. “Bathurst is one of my favourite ( tracks), Townsville is pretty good though it’s up there. It’s al­ways awe­some in Townsville.”

He said Townsville fans al­ways came out in force.

“North Queens­land doesn’t get much Su­per­car ac­tion, it’s ex­cit­ing for them ( res­i­dents) and us to come up here.”

Min­is­ter As­sist­ing the Pre­mier on North Queens­land and Mund­ing­burra MP Co­ralee O’Rourke said visi­tors would have a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

“This week­end Townsville will roll out the wel­come mat,” she said. “To all the Su­per­cars fans gear­ing up for this week­end we ex­tend a big wel­come and in­vite you to stay on, take a break, en­joy the lo­cal hos­pi­tal­ity and the tourism ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer in the re­gion.”

Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

Promo girls Chelsea White and Jes­sica Navin.

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