Graeme Wilson took this stunning drone photo of Maryborough.
Graeme Wilson took this stunning drone photo of Maryborough.

OPINION: Mary’s comeback must include tourism drive

WHALES are the undisputed stars in the region at the moment, but let's not forget Maryborough.

A theme has started to emerge in recent conversations with community leaders - more work is needed to make Maryborough a tourist destination in its own right.

This is not to say Maryborough has less to offer visitors than Hervey Bay, that's clearly not the case.

It does not, however, have the tourism reputation Hervey Bay enjoys.

The city's MP has said this, as has the co-founder of an innovative art project.

Let's be clear about something else.

Maryborough is not struggling or neglected.

It's a vibrant city with unmatched history and projects on the horizon poised to bring it back to its manufacturing glory days.

The fact remains, however, when people hear "Fraser Coast" they think of whales, beaches and an iconic island before historic facades and Mary Poppins.

The numbers don't lie - Maryborough's visitor count lagged behind Hervey Bay's during the school holidays.

The cancellation of the Heritage City's flagship event, the Mary Poppins Festival, took a noticeable toll on visitor numbers.

Hervey Bay, meanwhile, was the "busiest it's been in years", according to the region's tourism boss.

This is not a judgment of the Heritage City.

The Chronicle loves Maryborough and wants to see it achieve its full potential - take a look at the Mary's Making a Comeback campaign for proof of that.

So while we continue pushing for groundbreaking manufacturing projects, we'll carry the torch for Maryborough's tourism industry.

No trip to the Fraser Coast is complete without a visit to the Heritage City.

Let's do what we can to promote Maryborough as a top tourist destination in its own right.