Business booms as huge crowds roll in
FREE from Covid lockdown and keen to make the most of it, thousands of people flocked from across southeast Queensland to be a part of this year’s Festival of Food and Wine at Toowoomba’s Queens Park.
One group that made the journey west was the Happy Campers from Brisbane that booked out nine caravan sites and three cabins at Toowoomba Motor Village.
Happy Campers member Robyn Bowe said this month was her chance to pick the destination and with her daughter in Toowoomba the choice was obvious.
“There’s 24 of us and a lot hadn’t been before but after this weekend we all want to come back next year,” she said.
“The park was full, there were no vacancies, and there were people everywhere.”
Anyone that had looked to make a last-minute booking in Toowoomba over the weekend would have been lucky to find a room, with many accommodation providers in the Garden City fully booked out.
Quest Toowoomba general manager Jenny O’Reilly said they were booked out for the entire weekend, which was a welcome financial boost.
“The Carnival of Flowers is amazingly important to us, we rely on it to a certain extent, so if we could have a carnival or a festival every month that would be fantastic,” she said.
“September is usually one of the best months of the year for us, and while things are yet to reach preCovid levels we are starting to see more bookings for people travelling midweek to see the flowers.
“The entire hospitality industry has been impacted very severely by border closures and shutdowns so to have a full house was fantastic.”
Ms O’Reilly said the economic flow-on effect from the Festival of Food and Wine was evident in the city.
“When people stay with us I see guests eating in restaurants and cafes and drinking in our pubs so it has a knock-on effect for the entire town,” she said.
Tatts Hotel duty manager Sarah Jones said Saturday night was one of the busiest of 2021.
“It was crazy, we had so many people and it was clear they had just come from the carnival as they had the merchandise and the girls had flowers in their hair,” she said.
“It’s usually pretty busy during September but I think Saturday night was comparable to some of the biggest nights we’ve had, we got slammed.
“We were pretty constant from around 7pm, in previous years after an event we don’t get busy until around 10pm but it was constant all night.”
Toowoomba Regional Council Environment and Community Committee chair James O’Shea said he anticipated the Carnival of Flowers to provide a multimillion-dollar economic boost to the region.
“The carnival started in 1949 as a way to showcase the city as well as provide an economic stimulus to businesses after the war, and fast forward 72 years it’s doing the same thing, not just showcasing our beautiful city but also providing a wonderful economic boost,” he said.
“Saturday was sold out capacity of 8000, and Friday and Sunday tracked really strongly too.”