As the agricultural industry in Outback Queensland, one of the four pillars of the state economy, buckles under the pressure of the drought, another economic pillar – the Queensland tourism industry is providing some relief to farmers in the form of a break away from home.
A community lunch for farmers and local businesses, hosted yesterday in Longreach by the Qantas Founders Museum and Outback Queensland, lifted the spirits that had been severely dented by the drought across the region.
The positive focus has seen all thirteen of Queensland’s regional tourism offices answer the call to provide holidays for struggling farmers and their families, throughout the district in this time of difficulty.
Outback Queensland Tourism Association has committed $2500 worth of holiday travel to any Queensland destination, while other RTOs have generously donated 4-5-star accommodation packages, whale watching tours, snorkelling tours, rail passes, boat adventures and more.
Outback Queensland Tourism General Manager, Lloyd Mills, said tourism in the outback was beginning to be recognised as a major industry for the region, as at year ended June 2013 Tourism in Outback Queensland has generated more than $260 million visitor expenditure.
“During the past 18 months, Queensland peak tourism bodies have been working hard to deliver a cohesive and focused industry, with major partnerships throughout the state growing even stronger,” said Lloyd.
“The region relies heavily on both tourism and agriculture to sustain the local economy, so any state-wide support from the tourism industry further enhances the understanding in the community of tourism’s involvement and its preparedness to support.”
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey said the support already shown by Queensland’s RTOs was a fantastic example of the state’s tourism industry working collaboratively and supporting another crucial sector of the Queensland economy – agriculture.
“Tourism and agriculture are two of the most important industries for Outback Queensland, so it is wonderful to see the tourism industry support farmers who are currently doing it tough and give them a chance to relax and unwind through a holiday in Queensland,” Ms Stuckey said.
“A key theme of the Queensland Government’s recently-launched Destination Success 20-year plan for Queensland tourism is to build strong partnerships.
“Our aim for industry is to have strong leadership that works collaboratively across other industries, with communities and towards a common long-term vision.
“The initiative taken by Queensland’s RTOs and tourism industry on this occasion supports our Destination Success vision.”
CEO of Qantas Founders Museum Tony Martin said the free community event was organised as a social occasion, providing property and business owners with an opportunity to take a break and catch up with friends.
“As a not-for-profit community organisation, the museum tries to respond to the needs of its community and with the drought continuing, we feel it is important to let those affected know that we care and provide them with an opportunity to take a break”, said Tony.
A local grazier, who attended the lunch, said the outpour of support from Queensland’s tourism partners was exactly what the community needed, but the hardships weren’t over yet.
“Recent rainfall in some parts of the outback has eased the pain of the drought for a few properties, but more is needed to maintain the agricultural industry as a whole,” he said.
“It’s great to see that we can rely on tourism to help us in a time of need, not only to lift our spirits, but to provide a positive outlook for our future in the outback.”