GREEN SHOOTS: CQ’s tourism industry showing positive signs
THERE has been a promising upswing in CQ’s tourist numbers after the industry copped a tremendous hit from the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.
Acting as a hub for tourism and local residents who want to find out more about the area, the Capricorn Coast Visitor Information Centre, was forced to close its doors on March 24 for 11 weeks.
Based at the Ross Creek roundabout, the Yeppoon centre has been swarming with inquiries since reopening on June 8.
Heavily impacted by travel restrictions including border closures and ceastion of international visitation, the Capricorn Coast Visitor Information Centre still welcomed 2356 domestic and 67 international visitors (in Australia pre-COVID and could not return) to the centre during June and July.
Understandably, this number is down in comparison to the same period in 2019, when a total of 3368 guests (3081 domestic and 287 international) were recorded.
But a drop of only 725 domestic and 220 international visitors was a good result according to Capricorn Enterprise Chief Executive Mary Carroll, who believed it was offset by a growing hunger in the domestic explorer market to see what the region had to offer.
“Regardless of the predictable drop in our Visitor Information Centre records from the same period in 2019, the number of inquiries, even throughout the current difficult times, indicate that our region remains a popular tourist destination,” Ms Carroll said.
“During the shutdown period, our Coast Information Centre continued to answer 226 phone and email inquiries from people interested in finding out more about our destination and incredibly diverse tourism offering.
“We are now thrilled that visitors can access our valuable resources and facilities in person again and that our wonderful volunteers can showcase some of our lesser-known treasures, as well as the popular and renowned attractions right across our magnificent region.”
Throughout the testing months of April and May, she said Capricorn Enterprise rolled out the first two phases of the region’s recovery campaign, enticing visitors to explore their backyards and support the local tourism industry.
This, together with Tourism and Events Queensland’s ‘Good to Go’ promotions have shown positive signs of slowly rebuilding the destination’s battling tourism sector.
While only a portion of visitors to the Southern Great Barrier Reef destination visit the Information Centre, local tourism operators are also confirming large volumes of current and future bookings, with some accommodation providers reaching capacity across the weekends.
With the August long weekend approaching, the Capricorn Coast Visitor Information Centre was anticipating another boost in numbers.
As the State Government reopened borders with the rest of the nation during July, Queensland residents remained the strongest source of visitation, with a total of 1043 signing in at the Visitor Information Centre.
The origins of the remaining Centre visitors included – NSW (193), VIC (32), SA (17), WA (4), TAS (8), ACT (5) and NT (2).
The Central Highlands Visitor Information Centre in Emerald (managed by CHDC) and the Mount Morgan Information Centre (managed by MMPAD) also reopened their doors in June.
The Rockhampton Regional Council operated SPIRE Visitor Information Centre on the Bruce Highway entering the city only reopened on July 23 (an additional seven weeks after the Capricorn Coast VIC opened).
“We are very proud of our wonderful volunteers who have continued to assist visitors seven days a week,” Ms Carroll said.
“Without knowing what the near future holds for border closures, we are hoping that Queenslanders continue to support Queensland and make the most of what’s on offer right on their doorstep.
“Our operators are practising COVID-safe guidelines and remain committed to ensuring the safety of all visitors.”
Rockhampton Regional Council’s Tourism and Events Manager Annette Pearce said it was fantastic being able to once again welcome people through the doors of Rockhampton’s Visitor Information Centre.
“We’ve seen between 100-200 visitors per day over the last two weeks coming into the Visitor Information Centre to find out more about our beautiful Region, which is on par with last year,” Ms Pearce said.
“Of course, while our physical doors were closed due to COVID, we redirected visitors to our Explore Rockhampton website (www.explorerockhampton.com.au) and social media pages. “During this time, our Explore Rockhampton website received a record 17,120 views and our social media platforms saw a reach of over one million.”
She said they also diverted the Visitor Information Centre’s phones to an additional four of Council’s Explore Rockhampton team to ensure they serviced visitors wanting to know the best way to experience our amazing Rockhampton region.
“We worked closely with our fantastic and valuable volunteers to provide comprehensive COVID safe training, and ensured that everyone was comfortable with face to face interactions before we rostered our volunteers and opened the doors,” she said.
With the Queensland Government announcing the closure of the state’s border to NSW and ACT from this weekend, it was expected that visitor numbers to CQ would be impacted.
The Capricorn Coast Visitor Information Centre opens from 9.00am – 5.00pm, Monday to Sunday.
For more information, visit here.
Rockhampton’s Visitor Information Centre opening hours are 9am to 5pm Monday-Saturday, 9am to 3pm Sunday.
For more information, visit here.