Floods ‘hangover’ impacts tourism
THE deep pockets of business travellers have helped keep the region's tourism afloat, with corporate visitors coming in larger numbers, staying longer and leaving their cash in town.
Southern Queensland Country tourism figures show 1.82 million people visited the region last financial year - a decrease of 2.7% on 2012-13.
A 10.5% upsurge in business traveller numbers has counteracted the trend with more money being spent on hotels, restaurants and other service industries.
Southern Downs Councillor Jamie Mackenzie believed last year's overall slump in tourist numbers would not be repeated in the coming 12 months.
"I am a little surprised that visitation across Southern Queensland Country has fallen and suggest it may be a hangover from the floods in 2012," he said.
"The statistics will not reflect the boom in tourism that has happened since April, 2014, when the Teviot Rd connecting Boonah and Killarney reopened after extensive flood damage in January, 2012.
"This scenic road along the New South Wales border is one of south-east Queensland's best kept secrets with waterfalls, rainforest, mountain scenery, fresh clean air and great cafes that are patronised by Brisbane residents seeking refuge from the urban jungle.
"With terrorist scares, increasing population density and congestion, I expect visitation to the Southern Downs to steadily increase."
Travelling Sydney business people were the most generous spenders per capita, but interstate corporate travel actually dropped by 35.2%.
That shortfall was more than compensated by an 18.7% hike in the number of business visitors from within Queensland's borders.
International tourism took a slump on several fronts, but a growing number of international workers - mostly New Zealanders in the mining industry - bolstered overall visitor numbers by 1.1%.
Unfortunately for hotel operators, the use of work camps meant their financial injection dropped slightly.
Working travellers now contribute to 29.2% of all nights spent in the region by international visitors, who notch up a 33-night stay on average.
The amount of people visiting family and friends fell by 10.6%.
Cr Mackenzie expected the fall to be reversed by the November opening of Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba.
"It's only a one-and-a-half hour drive for us, so it saves people a three-hour drive from Coolangatta or Brisbane," he said.
Visitors spent 5.5 million nights in the Southern Queensland Country region last financial year.
TOP 10 INTERNATIONAL VISITORS
- 13,000 visitors
- 7000 visitors
- + 8.6%
KEY DOMESTIC SOURCE MARKETS
- 628,000 visitors
- 837,000 visitors
- 135,000 visitors
SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND COUNTRY
- Toowoomba and Darling Downs
- Warwick and surrounds
- Granite Belt
- South Burnett
- Western Country