The winter school holidays offer a perfect opportunity for Central Highlands residents to explore the Central West on their doorstep, said Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
“I know that many local families have their grandparents and other family members visit at this time of year when our climate is at its best. This year families should take a drive even further west. Longreach is only four hours away and their tourist dollars will make a real difference to Longreach and the towns along the way,” he said.
“Visitors can see top attractions such as the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, the Qantas Founders Museum, the Australian Workers Heritage Centre and even the Winton Dinosaur Stampede and Waltzing Matilda Centre,” he said.
Mr Millar said the strengthening of the El Nino means a continuation of a drought that is already rated among the very worst.
“Drive tourism has become a lifeline for the western communities and it is vital they have a successful tourist season this winter,” he said.
His comments come on the back of a six monthly report released by the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games showing an increase in domestic drive tourism from 12.2 million to 12.7 million in the year ending December 2014.
Outback Queensland saw a 20.2 per cent increase, Mackay a 19.3 per cent increase and Southern Great Barrier Reef a 13.6 per cent increase bringing visitors to the regions and providing a welcome injection into the local economy.
Shadow Minister for Tourism, Jann Stuckey said Queensland’s drive tourism market was flourishing under the LNP’s Drive Tourism strategy and called on the Palaszczuk-Gordon Government to extend it past 2015.
“Queensland’s size and climate make it the perfect destination for those wanting to hit the open road and explore our natural beauty at their own pace,” said Ms Stuckey.
“Significant growth in the past year through the Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy (2013 – 2015) is proof this LNP initiative is working.
“Half a million more people are taking to our roads to explore all Queensland has to offer and spending their dollars in country towns.
Ms Stuckey said drive tourism is the life-blood of many small businesses in towns throughout Queensland.
“The LNP recognised this with the release of the Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy, the culmination of strong partnerships with Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Regional Tourism Operators and industry associations,” she said.
“In March 2014 the LNP launched the Camping Options Toolkit, providing local governments with a range of best practice solutions to manage camping options followed by the release of the Best Practice Guide for Roadside Rest Areas.
“Our three year program of investment upheld our commitment to quality roads, appropriate rest areas, accommodation options and user-friendly information to enable visitors to plan their journey.
“In addition the revitalisation and development of tourism signage saw the installation of more than 300 attractive new signs across drive routes.
“Twenty million dollars was pledged by the LNP at the last election to continue this great work.
“I call on the Palaszczuk-Gordon Government to commit to continue funding these initiatives that draw people to our regions and showcase Queensland’s natural beauty and stunning landscapes.”