Turtle ranger Gemma Haley enjoys work at Mon Repos Beach which has proven to be a huge tourist drawcard.
Turtle ranger Gemma Haley enjoys work at Mon Repos Beach which has proven to be a huge tourist drawcard. Mike Knott

Soggy outlook for season

BUNDABERG region tourism chiefs are hoping a turtle-led recovery will lift the industry out of the doldrums.

With the wet weather and predictions of more rain into the next year, tourists are staying away from the region.

But Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism chairman Greg Barnes said an advertising campaign the organisation was running, with funding help from the state government, was helping to keep the number of visitors for turtle-watching healthy.

“We've spent $200,000 on the marketing campaign,” he said.

“We've got 12.5m-wide billboards in the heart of Brisbane advertising the turtle-watching.”

Mr Barnes said the campaign was paying dividends.

“The Queensland government has finally acknowledged that the turtles are an iconic attraction for the region,” he said.

The figures for the number of visitors to Mon Repos Beach speak for themselves.

By November 22, 2171 people had visited the beach for turtle-watching, up only marginally from the 2133 who had visited by the same date last year.

However, in the three weeks since then, by Saturday night 4365 people had taken the tour, a jump of 2194. Comparative figures for this time period 2009 were not available, but it is believed this year's visitor numbers are significantly higher.

But the persistent wet weather is still a worry for tourism.

Mr Barnes said every time the region got a period of heavy rain, it caused a real issue for the industry.

“People in caravan parks may decide to cut short their visit and head home if it's raining,” he said.

Mr Barnes said while tourism operators were booked for December, January was looking fairly quiet because of the forecasts of rain.

Oscar Motel owner Gary Carter said this was a quiet period as corporate visitors dropped off and school holidays had not yet started.

“Everybody we're getting is just talking about turtles all the time,” he said.

Bargara Beach Caravan Park worker Chelsea Proctor said their visitors tended to put on a smile no matter what the weather.

“When you're camping, you have to expect any kind of conditions.”



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