ROMA’S TIME TO SHINE
WHILE new data suggests tourists not only spent more in Australia last year, but spent more time visiting rural and regional locations, there is still room to grow in the south-west, local councils say.
Tourists spent $113.4 billion in Australia last year, and the Federal Minister for Tourism, Simon Birmingham, said more people were turning to the bush as part of their Australian experience.
“2.84 million international travellers chose to spend time in the bush, at the coast or in the outback in the 12 months prior to September 2018,” he said.
“Australia’s tourism industry continues to see strong growth and our regions are starting to reap the benefits.”
Some members of the local industry don’t feel those numbers are quite reaching the south-west region.
Tourism portfolio chair Puddy Chandler said the Minister was talking more about regional destinations in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, and that there needed to be more focus put on outback tourism in Queensland.
Cr Chandler said the Maranoa Regional Council was working closely with Maranoa tourism to improve the region as a destination.
“We need to talk more about outback tourism, about heading west.
“We’re working on developing the Big Rig to make it more iconic, we want to make it a must-see on self-drive itineraries.
“We’re only six hours drive or a one hour flight from Brisbane, we want people to stop here and learn more about our unique region.”
Cr Chandler said there was a collective goal to make the Maranoa more appealing to tourists, including introducing a “welcome to...” program that would include all retailers in the region.
“In these kinds of towns, every business has a connection to tourism, it doesn’t matter if they’re a tyre shop, most retail businesses come in contact with tourists.”
Last month, the six councils of the south-west; Maranoa, Balonne, Murweh, Paroo, Bulloo and Quilpie, met to discuss their regional economic development, and how they would use a $150,000 tourism booster from the Queensland Government.
Annie Liston, who is the South West Regional Economic Development Association Chair and Murweh Shire Mayor, said the councils from the region were joining forces to further boost regional tourism.
“We may be having a drought, but we are starting to see floods of visitors hitting the highway to sample life in the south-west. The six councils will work together to cross promote experiences for those heading out this way.”
Queensland Premier Anastasia Palazcszuk recently announced 2019 the Year of the Outback, which Cr Liston hopes will help boost numbers.
ACTION TIME: Charlie Eames, Councillor Puddy Chandler and Cyril Peet from The Big Rig Action Group.