THE Scenic Rim is shaping up as a tourism hotspot akin to NSW wine region the Hunter Valley, a local operator says amid a state-wide ecotourism push.
The state government's plan to grow tourism has a heavy emphasis on ecotourism, with millions invested in local projects in recent years.
Alex Cooper, owner of ecotourism business Ketchup's Bank Glamping at Boonah, said having Brisbane city within driving distance was a huge boon to Scenic Rim tourism.
"The Scenic Rim is perfectly positioned to be known as the regional destination of this growing city, in the same way the Hunter Valley, Adelaide Hills, Margaret River, and the Yarra Valley are," Mr Cooper said.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said ecotourism was a vital element in the government's plan to grow Queensland tourism.
"By next year, the Palaszczuk government will have delivered 100 tourism infrastructure projects throughout the state, many of which are ecotourism projects," she said.
"These projects are creating jobs, stimulating the economy in surrounding regions, and encouraging increased tourism in those areas."
State investment in the Scenic Rim includes $2.8 million in revitalising the Green Mountains Campground, now known as O'Reilly's Campground, in Lamington National Park and $10 million for the Scenic Rim Trail.
It also included the $2.5 million Via Ferrata climbing system at Binna Burra Lodge, $1.67 million of which was state funding.
Mr Cooper said the money of the future in the Scenic Rim lay in ecotourism.
"For us, ecotourism makes good economical sense," he said.
"Whilst the idea of saving the planet has been around for a while, the awareness of what this means and seemingly a growing social consciousness for people to do more has morphed into some pretty big investment and innovation into this idea."
Mr Cooper said Ketchup's Bank Glamping - which is completely off the grid - had never been busier since the state government lifted restrictions in June, despite the elimination of the international market.
"Our guests have been all Queenslanders wanting to get away from it all and find that little bit of perspective during such an uncertain time," he said.
"We've had guests who have lost their jobs and spending their money to sit around a campfire with their partner, just to take stock and figure out what to do next."
Scenic Rim Regional Council last year announced its bid to become a certified ECO Destination, a move which was praised by Mount Barney Lodge operator and Ecotourism Australia deputy chair Innes Larkin.
"The Scenic Rim is among the top 20 regions to be most affected by climate change," he said.
Mr Cooper said the next step was more collaboration between ecotourism business.
"[We need to] offer a combined effort to showcase our love of adventure, peace, and the environment," he said.
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