Southbank of the Central West: Thomson River Masterplan
With overseas holidays on hold for much of foreseeable future, Australians are instead at holidaying at home.
The regional drive-to markets are booming while demand in CBD hotel markets is only expected to recover after some years.
Outback Queensland is a bucket list destination and growing numbers of domestic holidaymakers are touring the Central West with its rich and diverse experiences. From participating in citizen science at the region’s very own natural history museum, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton, to immersion in the region’s deep history through the evening light show, Luminescent Longreach at the Qantas Founders Museum.
The Central West shares its energy and artistry in major events from Boulia’s Camel Races and the Simpson Desert Racing Carnival, to Birdsville’s Big Red Bash and Winton’s Way out West Fest.
These attractions have been driving peak-season occupancy rates for local hotels and motels to an estimated 75 per cent. Major capital-city occupancy rates are generally staying below 70 per cent with some markets still down at around 60 per cent.
The local tourism sector is also an important and highly productive sector to invest in. It generates $109 million in output per annum, placing it within the region’s top five sectors. It is CWQ’s fourth largest employer, with each worker providing services and producing output to the tune of $239,000 per year – making them more productive than their colleagues across the state.
There are opportunities to plug significant gaps in the local offering to meet the growing demand – particularly at the high end of the market. Opportunities exist for tours and experiences, including indigenous experiences and learning, farm tours and guided outback tours. Investment into complimentary high-end accommodation would similarly plug a local gap to meet growing demand for higher value services.
The Thomson River Masterplan is paving the way for these opportunities to be realised. The plan is promoting development along the iconic river for new projects that will attract visiting tourists and also enhance local liveability. A Discovery Centre and Gardens as well as an Eco-Lodge and other commercial accommodation offerings are part of the top priorities of this plan.