Qld outback festivals bring in domestic visitors to offset drop in overseas visitors

Queensland’s outback is a tale of two visitor demographics, with festivals luring domestic visitors in greater numbers but international visitors turning away.

The latest figures from Tourism Research Australia show that domestic tourists to the outback have increased by 17 per cent, against a 7.4 per cent drop in the number of international tourists.

International tourists to outback Queensland dropped from 27,000 in June 2018 to 25,000 in June 2019.

The growth in domestic visitors follows the Qld Government’s $36 million investment in a Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund to improve tourism and road facilities in outback centres like Winton, Birdsville, Blackall, Aramac, Jericho, Mt Isa, Birdsville and Aramac, in addition to a $10 million Outback Tourism Infrastructure fund.

The Chinchilla Melon Festival.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive and economist Daniel Gschwind says the outback is a “very, very difficult” region to maintain as a tourist destination.

“It is bigger than Europe with a strong seasonality so it is not easy to encourage and focus travellers’ minds in going out there,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Gschwind said the focus on festivals puts in place “big landmark events” to lure tourists.

“The idea is to put down some big markers down that cut through with consumers and incentivise them to get out there,” he said.

“You have to be a bit careful not to spread your promotional jam to thinly.

“You have to really have impact and I think the evidence shows that with the success of events in Winton … it has drawn people out into the outback.”