Pollies, business owner ready for tourism to return
A JEWEL in the crown of Queensland and the best place to be is how Burnett MP Stephen Bennett describes the Bundaberg Coral Coast and wider Burnett region.
As travel restrictions lift, Mr Bennett is encouraging everyone to tell their friends and family to come and visit us, to help support local tourism and business.
“From our ideal position as the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, to our unique turtle encounters, world-class distillers, brewers and winemakers, beautiful beaches, unrivalled climate, culinary masters and fresh, local produce, nothing beats the Bundaberg and Burnett region," Mr Bennett said.
“With a smorgasbord like this, your friends and family will not need much convincing to come and enjoy everything our beautiful backyard has to offer.
“Our tourism industry and local businesses need us to support them right now as they recover from the COVID-19 lockdown. Spreading the message that we are open for business is something so simple that we can all do to get them back on their feet.”
One of the business owners excited to see visitors from the far reaches of Queensland was The Windmill Cafe’s Joey Caruana.
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“I’m really looking forward to welcoming Queenslanders to our amazing region,” Mr Caruana said.
“We are all ready to open. Our tourist operators, our culinary operators, our farms, all our businesses can’t wait for you to experience our region. We have been waiting and now we are super ready!
“We have got the best reef that you could possibly imagine, being the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and we have an amazing experience going out there with Lady Musgrave Island and also lady Elliot, and not to mention of course we’ve got our rum.
“One of the things I’m keen for is our beautiful producers who produce 25 per cent of Australia’s fruit and veg right here in our region and our culinary heroes that we produce this amazing food for you guys to taste, so you can really feel the love and the experience that we all live here in our region.
“So holiday in our backyard and come and experience our region which is definitely world-class.”
And while the locals spruiked the benefits of the region, Queensland’s opposition leader Deb Frecklington took the offensive, saying Central Queensland and the Wide Bay regions were bleeding millions of dollars in tourism losses each month due to the state government’s border closures.
Ms Frecklington said more than $245 million was spent in the region by interstate tourists each year.
The figure Ms Frecklington quoted comes from data released by Tourism and Events Queensland, showing the total value of tourism goods and services consumed by residents and international visitors in Australia to be $245m for the Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton regions.
“Local jobs and the local economy rely on southerners coming to Central Queensland and the Wide Bay to escape the winter cold and spend their money,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk must keep her original promise and re-open Queensland to interstate tourists on July 10.
“Labor has changed the goalposts and this reckless flip flopping has cost Queensland jobs.
“The only way to restart the Queensland economy is to provide certainty and re-open interstate borders.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk is putting all this at risk because businesses still have no certainty on whether the interstate border will remain closed until September.”
But a spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland wasn’t the alone in keeping borders closed.
He said the state’s success meant being able to re-open the economy and start getting people back into jobs sooner.
And while the premier agreed Bundaberg was one of the jewels in the crown of the state’s tourism industry, noted outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria meant it wasn’t worth the risk of opening borders and having the state go backward.