DRIVING NUMBERS: A record number of international visitors made Southern Queensland their destination of choice last year, most of them being Europeans.
DRIVING NUMBERS: A record number of international visitors made Southern Queensland their destination of choice last year, most of them being Europeans. contributed

European visitors reach record high, but where are they?

DESPITE being the first international trade ready tourism operator on the Granite Belt, Marion Carrick hasn't seen her share in the 20 per cent spike in international visitors to Southern Queensland.

With more than 48,000 overseas travellers making southern Queensland their destination of choice last year, the region's peak tourism body is boasting an all-time high in international tourism.

Data released by Southern Queensland Country Tourism shows a 20 per cent jump in the number of international visitors to the region that encompasses Warwick and Stanthorpe among other towns.

But as the co-owner of a luxury tourism provider, Ms Carrick hasn't noticed a significant increase in the number of international visitors.

"That is probably a reflection on the limited number of accommodation options and attractions in this area that are international trade ready," she said.

International trade ready businesses are those which are contracted with international trade providers like Flight Centre and Helloworld, which link travellers with overseas holidays destinations.

But Ms Carrick said the higher commissions rates of such providers can deter small-scale local tourism operators.

"It's a slow process primarily because in order to attract a large number of international visitors to the region they need a larger number of things to see and do.

"Even though we have lots in our region, it is harder work to attract visitors because on paper it can appear there is not much to see and do because there is currently a small number of other businesses contracted."

Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said only one person identified as being international trade ready at a tourism forum last year.

"This is an onus on the business themselves to go and get themselves registered," Cr Dobie said.

Ms Carrick said free trade ready workshops provided by Southern Queensland Country Tourism could help local tourism operators attract more international customers.

But she said the region should not forget the "bread and butter" of its tourist industry, which comprised predominantly domestic tourists from the south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales areas.

"The international side is of real value but it isn't the be all and end all."

The data released by Southern Queensland Country Tourism showed Europeans to make up the vast majority of overseas visitors to the region.

"One of the reasons we get western European travellers is because they have longer holidays than some of the other countries and there can be less language barriers," Ms Carrick said.

But Cr Dobie said seasonal workers from Asian countries also made up a prominent part of the international influx.

"You only have to walk around Stanthorpe and notice so many South Korean visitors are coming to do seasonal work," she said.

"Just from what I've seen the seasonal workers who come to backpacker events the majority are Taiwanese, South Korean and French."



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