Keeping the tourists here

The west has seen one of its largest tourist seasons in recent memory. PHOTO: denisbin; flickr.

WITH borders closed, and limited places to go, many have turned to the outback to explore.

Queensland Tourism and Industry Council Chief Executive, Daniel Gschwind said, “this is the time for the outback and for Longreach to really shine and show its best self to an audience of Australians who probably always thought they would come but never have until now.”

“It’s not only grey nomads visiting, its younger people, its couples, its people with children and all these people will hopefully tell their friends or the children may come back later in life.

“We want to make sure that customers leave with that positive impression.

“That’s why everybody has a stake in this from the service station attendant to the restaurant, to the retail staff, to the council, this is a shared culture,” said Mr Gschwind.

Mr Gschwind said this back-of-mind bucket list became operational and people started to look for that special experience in their backyard.

“The outback is a long way from the virus, and it is seen as a safe and healthy space,” he said.

“Outback towns like Longreach, Winton, Barcaldine, in particular, have seen some significant private investment go into building attractions.

“Qantas Founders Museum, the Stockman’’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, the Waltzing Matilda and Dinosaur Museum in Winton and The Indigenous Experience in Barcaldine all of those things came along at exactly the right time.

“The locals here from the council, to the operators, had a vision for these towns to become ideal tourism destinations,” said Mr Gschwind.

The Queensland Tourism and Industry Council are working to ensure that when borders do reopen Australians who have ventured to the outback have generated enough buzz that the numbers of outback tourism continue to grow.

“Coastal areas, beaches rainforests are special but they are more directly competing with destinations overseas, but the outback is Australian and it cannot be replicated,” said Mr Gschwind.

Mr Gschwind said Queensland Tourism Industry Council is focused on trying every opportunity to maintain staffing levels.

“We have had no migration working holiday visas, no international students or skilled migrants coming to Australia, which means our national labor could have shrunk by hundreds of thousands,” he said.

“We are encouraging young people to take up careers in tourism and hospitality, and also older Australians to get into the tourism industry as a career change or an opportunity to get back into the workforce.”