Southern Downs and Granite Belt Regional Tourism marketing manager Catherine Dunn and tourist officer Madonna Pacek said tourism across the region is steadily improving.
Southern Downs and Granite Belt Regional Tourism marketing manager Catherine Dunn and tourist officer Madonna Pacek said tourism across the region is steadily improving. Kerri Burns-Taylor

Tourist sector fears for business

AS the carbon tax continues to dominate headlines and ignite debate across the country, the effect to be had on the tourism industry within the already flood-ravaged Southern Downs region remains unclear.

Following the unveiling of the government’s carbon tax package, the Australian Tourism Export Council expressed concerns that although transport industries will be compensated, no such cover would be provided for tourism.

Grafton Rose B&B owner Bruce McClure said he was still unsure of what effect the tax would have on his business, however he said he was sure any reduction in visitors would dramatically impact his business.

“It’s a waiting game for me,” Mr McClure said.

“Things are fine now but if we get anything like that we will have to pass it in – but I haven’t had an increase in rates for four years.”

Mr McClure said there needed to be more focus on getting visitors to Warwick, or at least Queensland, and showing them what we have here.

Although he hosts a number of out-of-town visitors who travel to the area for major events such as Jumpers and Jazz and the rodeo, Mr McClure said a lot of travellers will return to the Rose City after the initial visit.

“Events in Warwick are a big part of the B&B business in town and any big wedding, horse or car event always brings a lot of people,” he said.

“You have to get people here because once they’re here we have a lot to offer them.”

Still unsure of the impact the tax would have on the industry, Mr McClure said there were things the government could do to soften the blow on operators.

He said there could be more of a focus on regional Queensland through advertising campaigns and simply easing the financial impact on the average household.

“If the money does get redistributed and the government is given an opportunity to ease the burden on the households that would definitely be of benefit,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’s compensation or what it is we need but we need to helped one way or another.”

Southern Downs and Granite Belt Tourism general manager Stuart Perry said the last thing the region needed was another blow to the tourism industry after the floods.

But he said tourism operators should hold off to get all the information before worrying about the effects of the tax.

“I think people shouldn’t panic – just watch this space, see what happens and go from there,” he said.

While Mr Perry is cautioning tourism operators against becoming fearful, he said there were concerns arising from the tax.

He said while everyone is in favour of a clean, green planet, he was concerned at implementing changes that placed constraints on the industry as a whole.

Owner of the Centrepoint Midcity Motel Julie Payze said she had put much thought into the effect the tax would have on tourism but she wasn’t worried about the viability of her business.

Although the motel was one of the worst hit during the floods, Mrs Payze said the business has bounced back from the devastation and could handle anything thrown its way.

“Once you have done the floods you can do anything,” she said.

Mrs Payze said business had recovered well and she was constantly hosting visitors to the regions, as well as those who were just passing through.