Visitors eye region for Ekka weekend bringing in millions
AFTER a record season for winter tourism in the region, the Ekka public holiday long weekend is expected to bring another boost in visitor numbers this Friday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the date of the public holiday had been shifted to create a long weekend, which would help "pump millions of dollars into the economy".
At Ballandean Estate Wines, the weekend change has already caused a surge in reservations.
"At this stage, the restaurant is fully booked all weekend," Ballandean Estate finance manager Robyn Henderson said.
"We still are probably getting 20 to 30 calls a day where people are trying to book in for the weekend.
"We love all long weekends on the Granite Belt."
Crows Nest Tourist Park is another business which has seen strong demand ahead of the public holiday.
"We're enjoying good occupancy rates on our cabins and with the caravan and motor home operations," park owner Gerald Searle said.
"There is no question this weekend is going to be a bumper one for the Crows Nest village."
Southern Queensland Country Tourism CEO Peter Homan said the Darling Downs and surrounding areas were a popular choice for those looking for a safe but picturesque holiday spot.
"Tourism operators across the Southern Queensland Country region are already booked out for the long weekend, with areas including the Granite Belt, Bunya Mountains and much of Toowoomba showing bookings that exceed the same period for last year," Mr Homan said.
"The bump is hard to quantify because a lot of the travelling public are already here - but this season has been the best by a country mile, we've seen bookings into early summer, which is unheard of."
With international travel grounded, Mr Homan said it was likely there would be more local spending.
"There's a nine billion dollar international travel market in Queensland," he said.
"Research suggests 30 per cent of people are now swapping their international travel for domestic holidays.
"That means there is up to three billion dollars that will be spent domestically - which is a huge number."