Tourism decline led to M'boro CBD business closure
ON MONDAY, after 12 years selling gifts and antiques, Debbie Lindeberg won't be opening the doors to her store in the Maryborough central business district.
A lack of tourists to supplement local spending has led her to close Penny's Country Corner permanently, with a champagne-led farewell held at the weekend.
The closure is a sign of the struggle gripping Maryborough that includes house prices, jobs and tourism woes.
Mrs Lindeberg said plans led by Fraser Coast Regional Council and its tourism body Fraser Coast Opportunities to revitalise Maryborough's tourism and its CBD are too little, too late for the city.
She said there had been a gradual decline in tourism numbers that became truly noticeable from about August last year.
"I can go days and days without seeing a strange face," she said.
"It just slowly died."
A lack of industry and high unemployment has also put a chokehold on homeowners who want to sell in order to leave to secure employment.
Mrs Lindeberg said she and her husband would lose nearly $100,000 if they accepted the current offers on their home.
"People can't sell their home, they can't get jobs," she said.
"It's like a vicious circle.
"You feel almost like you're in jail."
Mrs Lindeberg called for an events calendar prepared far in advance so businesses could plan to capitalise on those events.
"The functions are what we need," she said.
Councillor Stuart Taylor, who holds the tourism portfolio, said there had been a marked decline in tourists to Maryborough since the drought hit Central Queensland, one of the city's biggest markets.
"My heart goes out to people who are struggling," he said.
"I think we've got some really good strategies in place at the moment."
"There has been a desire... to really push Maryborough as an events hub."
He said more council events were held in Maryborough than in any other place on the Fraser Coast, including events such as Relish food and wine festival, Pub Fest and Open House.
Cr Daniel Sanderson heads the Imagine This City strategy.
He said confidence in the CBD was growing, with 19 businesses either moving into the CBD or moving premises within it in the past eight months.