COVID-19 takes its toll on Scenic Rim tourism

TOURISM has taken a brutal knock from COVID-19, but there is hope the Scenic Rim will boom when restrictions are lifted.

Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen said travel restrictions, and tight hospitality industry regulations meant many tourism operators and other small businesses had temporarily closed their doors.

"The impacts of COVID-19 follow the impacts of more than four months of bushfires the Scenic Rim faced from September to December 2019," he said.

"Most of the tourism operators who have experienced loss of trade as a result of COVID-19 experienced similar impacts during the bushfires."

Cr Christensen said funds had been allocated for bushfire recovery efforts for tourism and would help bring visitors back post COVID-19.

"That said, the funds council had received are specifically for bushfire recovery. We have not received any funds yet relating to COVID-19 impacts, so the guidelines that we need to meet are specific to bushfire impacts," he said.

With state borders remaining closed, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had indicated travel within Queensland would be the first step to reopening the industry.

A University of Queensland survey showed Australians were keen to travel close to home post COVID-19 with country and regional areas proving popular, cities being the least appealing.

Scenic Rim Brewery owner and Destination Scenic Rim president Mike Webster said the region would have a good initial uptake but it would depend on the state of the economy and job security.

"It's the perfect opportunity to capture the local drive market because we have so much more than crowded malls, sandy beaches and high-rise accommodation," he said.

He was already taking bookings and Destination Scenic Rim was also working on small events, like markets to welcome people back.

Council's Richest Place on Earth campaign, also aimed to revive tourism.

"Council has been working hard behind the scenes to develop new video footage and photography to use in a new phase of the Richest Place on Earth campaign, which will include television advertising," Cr Christensen said.

Many of the region's accommodation providers were gearing up to host guests again from mid-June.

Daniela and David Kennedy, owners Witches Falls Cottages, said they started working on reopening from the day they had to close their doors.

"We did maintenance at the cottages and reviewed our website, packages and social media channels," Ms Kennedy said.

The couple expected business to boom and was already fielding plenty of inquiries from Brisbane people.

Amber Cordingley-Erpf from Cedar Glen Farmstay said they were already almost fully booked for the June/July holidays, but they had taken a hit during the pandemic.

"We had to close our doors for almost three months, this came after lower than expected bookings from January through to March due to bushfires, droughts and also some minor flooding that occurred.

"We were relying on our April bookings, in particular Easter, to recoup some of those losses so it affected us quiet badly and we expect it will take some time to recover once we are fully open," she said.

Floating Images hot air balloon tours pilot Graeme Day believed domestic tourism would begin slowly as businesses reopened.

"We felt the COVID-19 impact in late-January when the Chinese travellers didn't visit during Chinese New Year and have had a steady decline since," he said.

Scenic Rim Brewery owner and president of Destination Scenic Rim Mike Webster. Photo: Sabine Barnard

Scenic Rim Brewery owner and president of Destination Scenic Rim Mike Webster. Photo: Sabine Barnard