Astronomer James Barclay, right, shares a view of the night skies with tourism operators through the Kingaroy Observatory’s telescopes at Visit South Burnett’s recent Meet and Greet

August 23, 2021

A new regional tourism guide is being prepared to replace the South Burnett’s previous one, which is now almost out of stock.

News about the guide was announced by Visit South Burnett’s (VSB) Tourism Development Officer Melanie Eastaugh at a meet and greet held at the Kingaroy Observatory earlier this month.

Melanie told the audience the pandemic had been good for the South Burnett tourism industry because it had encouraged more Queenslanders to visit destinations in their own State rather than travel interstate or overseas.

VSB members had reported bookings this year were significantly higher than they had been prior to the pandemic, and that trend seemed set to continue for many months to come.

VSB was using this period to create more marketing materials for the region.

This included an updated, glovebox-sized regional tourism guide; a regional tourism website; and digital training courses which showed local tourism operators how to leverage social media to build the region’s image in the minds of potential visitors.

Melanie said she had also been encouraging the region’s business groups to recognise that “everyone is in tourism” (ie. the benefits of tourism dollars flow into all parts of the community) and urging them to become familiar with their own town’s tourism offerings.

She said data from the industry showed that up to 80 per cent of all tourism-related bookings were now made online through a mobile phone.

But while tourists used mobiles to make bookings, there was still a strong demand for a hard-copy guide they could carry in their vehicle as they moved around the region.

That was the reason VSB were working on producing one, which is expected to appear towards the end of August or early September.

Another exciting development was the recent announcement by Western Downs Regional Council that it will spend more than $2 million this year to create 30km of adventure cycling trails at Russell Park in the Bunya Mountains.

Melanie said this project – coupled with the South Burnett Rail Trail and mountain bike tracks developed by the South Burnett Mountain Bike Club at Gordonbrook Dam and Wondai’s McEuen Forestry – should see the region’s reputation for adventure tourism greatly enhanced.

And while a number of major annual events have recently been cancelled due to pandemic lockdowns, VSB was keen to work with event organisers in future to ensure that significant events were widely promoted to potential out-of-town visitors.

The meeting was attended by about 30 tourism operators, event organisers and local business groups.

After Melanie spoke, many gave short presentations about their own activities.

Elaine Raffin, from the Wondai Business Network, told the meeting her organisation was encouraging Wondai businesses to become VSB members.

KCCI president Damien Martoo said the KCCI had a very positive attitude towards tourism and hoped the Kingaroy Transformation Project would expand the South Burnett’s tourism assets once it was complete.

Matt Lonsdale, from the Kingaroy and District Vintage Machinery Club, said that in addition to the club’s annual rally – which will be held on September 18-19 – members were planning a much bigger Heritage Rally for 2022 which they hoped could attract as many as 10,000 people.

A representative from TAFE spoke about the wide range of hospitality training courses Kingaroy’s TAFE is now offering, and several others operators spoke about recent enhancements to their own tourism offerings.

After this, Kingaroy Observatory’s Jim Barclay gave the visitors a tour of the facility and gave them a peek at the night skies through the observatory’s telescopes.

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