BIG SMILES: The team from Symphony Hill Wines are ecstatic to be back in operation.
BIG SMILES: The team from Symphony Hill Wines are ecstatic to be back in operation.

‘The score is on the board’: Tourism industry takes off

THE region’s visitors are going “nuts” for the Granite Belt with tourism operators breathing a sigh of relief as restrictions ease and operations return to close to normal.

Granite Belt Wine Tourism president Martin Cooper said there are plenty of smiles around the region as the number of tourists continues to climb.

“The bookings have been absolutely fantastic,” Mr Cooper said.

“Across the board wineries, accommodation houses and attractions have all said visitors are going nuts.”

With the hardship of recent months finally taking a back seat, Mr Cooper said he was very relieved.

“We still have a very long way to go to make up for the month of April and May that we missed,” he said.

“But the score is on the board for June, July and August – and right now it is looking pretty smart.”

With the hope of snow on many minds, Mr Cooper said he was expecting the industry to only go up from here.

“If we get snow it will be crazy,” he said.

“It is a struggle to get a park in town during the week. That tells us that there are plenty of people in town midweek as well as weekends.”

With visitors more eager than ever, Filippo’s Tours owner Burt Lancaster said it was a “heartening” sight.

Entering their third weekend of operation since being given the all-clear on June 13, Mr Lancaster said it had been nothing but smooth sailing.

“It has been very busy – lots of inquiries and bookings,” Mr Lancaster said.

He said while it was welcome news for the return of tours, implementing social distancing requirements had proven a difficult task.

“The biggest problem we are facing is the number of people that restaurants can seat at a time,” he said.

“We can also only fill our buses up to about 50 to 60 per cent capacity to accommodate social distancing.”

But he said he was grateful to have the doors open again.

“Once things return to full capacity we will be able to get back into the swing of things properly again,” Mr Lancaster said.

“Every dollar we are earning is better than nothing.

“We are just a small family business treating people the way we want to be treated.”

As of July 10, the state will enter the final stage of relaxed restrictions with interstate travel permitted and a maximum of 100 people gatherings in public spaces, venues and homes.

Stanthorpe Border Post


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