September 24, 2020
A new tourism partnership between the South Burnett Regional Council and the Visit South Burnett (VSB) local tourism organisation already appears to be bearing fruit.
According to data gathered by Toowoomba’s Southern Queensland Country Tourism (SQCT) from Booking.Com, Air Bnb, Trip Advisor and VRBO, the South Burnett’s tourism operators enjoyed a 68 per cent occupancy rate in August – 32 per cent higher than the same month last year.
This was the highest occupancy rate of any region measured by SQCT, beating rises that occurred in Toowoomba, the Lockyer Valley, Goondiwindi, Southern Downs and Western Downs.
SQCT also reported that during August, visitors increased their average daily spend in the South Burnett by 22 per cent, injecting welcome extra dollars into the local economy.
And if the region’s roads seemed busier than usual at certain times last month, it was no illusion.
SQCT reported that during the Ekka long weekend, the Bunya Mountains received two to three times its normal visitor numbers – a figure repeated in other parts of the region as well.
The SQCT figures have been backed up by the South Burnett Regional Council.
At its September meeting, Councillors heard that bookings at Yallakool and Lake Boondooma both increased significantly after the two tourist parks reopened for overnight visitors on August 1.
This year the two dams recorded a combined occupancy number of 1981.
This was a 53 per cent increase on the 1294 visitors they hosted during the same period last year.
The South Burnett Rail Trail Users Association (SBRTUA) also reported big spikes in traffic during August.
SBRTUA secretary Jason Wyeth told southburnett.com.au his group had counted 640 caravanners using the freestay parks at Wooroolin and Wondai last month.
The group have been conducting daily “head counts” at both freestays over the past 18 months in an effort to measure grey nomad tourism.
He said this year’s figures were higher than they were 12 months ago.
Freestay occupancy was also matched by a growth in rail trail user traffic, with counters recording more than 810 trail users in August.
This was a 46 per cent lift on April’s monthly traffic figures during the height of the COVID lockdown.
At that time, tourism effectively ground to a halt and rail trail usage was restricted solely to South Burnett residents.
With borders closed due to COVID-19, Tourism and Events Queensland has been promoting holidays within the State to Queenslanders as part of its economic recovery initiatives.
It’s “Good To Go Queensland” TV campaign (see video, below) encouraged Queenslanders to holiday in their home state.
VSB believes the campaign had a big part to play in the August traffic spike.
However, the South Burnett’s outstanding results were also due to local industry operators working together and co-operatively marketing one another.
Visit South Burnett president Jason Kinsella said he was convinced this industry-led approach was the key to the region out-performing its near neighbours.
“The August results were a tribute to both VSB members and the Council, who worked in partnership to promote the South Burnett as a drive destination,” Jason said.
“August was a real ‘build it and they will come’ moment for our region.
“But thanks to strong partnership action between Visit South Burnett and the Council, we’ve seen outstanding early results already with the promise of more to come.”
VSB are now advertising for a Tourism Development Officer to work full-time for the organisation.