Emeraldene Inn owner Rob Lennon says the last three months of 2012-13 have been among the hotel’s best for several years.
Emeraldene Inn owner Rob Lennon says the last three months of 2012-13 have been among the hotel’s best for several years. Alistair Brightman

Local operators challenge tourism figures showing a drop

TOURISM operators are reporting a strong increase in the number of visitors to the region, despite gloomy figures that showed a 20% decline in domestic tourists during 2012-13.

Emeraldene Inn owner Robert Lennon said the last three months of the 2012-13 financial year had been among the hotel's best for several years.

"We were up on all of those months," he said.

"I can't identify there has been a decline."

The figures, published by Tourism Queensland, showed a decline of overall visitor numbers by 20% and a decline in visitors just on holiday of 28%.

Mr Lennon said the eco-resort market had seen a dramatic increase in international visitors over the past few months.

"We're starting to get regular bookings from the Chinese," he said. "It's quite interesting and quite positive."

Mr Lennon said the proactive attitude of the business may have helped to stave off a decrease in visitors and he said Hervey Bay needed to adapt a more positive attitude towards visiting tourists.

"It's the role of everybody in the community," he said.

"We could double our visitation."

Fraser Island's Kingfisher Bay Resort echoed the call for the tourism group to work collectively together.

Kingfisher Bay Resort director of sales and marketing Kerry Brough said the resort had seen an increase in domestic visitation from both Queensland and other states in the past year.

She said while the resort had bucked the trend through initiatives such as identifying potential markets and releasing targeted deals, it still had a long way to go.

"There is no doubt that market conditions are extremely tough, but in these tough times there has been a great spirit of co-operation between operators, partners and industry," Ms Brough said.

She said the region needed to work as a collective group to find new ways to convert customer awareness into visitation.

In Maryborough, Arkana Motel owner Kim Donaldson said the motel had also shown an increase, rather than decrease, during 2012-13.

She said Maryborough and Hervey Bay's tourism markets were vastly different and were likely to show different results in visitor numbers.

Mrs Donaldson said the city and its tourism industry had recovered much faster from the 2013 floods than the 2011 floods, when national and international media reports impacted on visitor numbers.

"People thought the whole of Queensland was under water," she said.

Both Mrs Donaldson and Mr Lennon hoped the introduction of new marketing body, Fraser Coast Opportunities, would help to increase tourist numbers.



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