22 March, 2022
Fuel prices add to tourism woes
TOURISM businesses, already hit by a loss of business over the past two years due to Covid, may be in for more hard times as a result of soaring fuel prices.
With the Tablelands relying heavily on the self-drive market, the high cost of fuel may deter many from drive holidays for the foreseeable future.
Tourism Atherton Tablelands chair Eddie Nye said the upcoming school holidays and Easter break may be quieter than normal for tourism operators and associated businesses like cafes.
“The self-drive market for the Tablelands is really important, especially those coming from places like Townsville and Mackay – the increase in fuel prices will mean a significant rise in costs to them getting to us,” he said.
Floods in South-east Queensland, northern New South Wales and the greater Sydney area would also affect numbers in the upcoming school holidays.
With thousands facing significant losses in the floods, many families will not have the financial means to consider a holiday anytime soon.
“Added to that, we can expect to see higher airfares in the months to come and that will also be a deciding factor,” Mr Nye said.
Another issue was the car rental market which had been through some tough times in the past two years. “Many car rental companies gave back their vehicles during the pandemic and have been slow to get them back or finding it difficult to get their fleet back due to supply, so that means they are charging higher prices,” he said.
That meant people would face a choice between spending up to $150 a day to hire a car and take a drive to the Tablelands or spend the money on a tourism experience in Cairns.
“Given we are probably going to see a reduction in people coming from within the State, we’re going to have to rely on the friends and family market a bit more,” Mr Nye said.
He did not expect fuel prices to drop back to “normal” levels for up to a year which could adversely affect the region’s “grey nomad” migration that usually boosts tourism numbers during the winter months. Added to that was the added competition of overseas destinations as international flights resume, proving more choice for holidaymakers.
However, Mr Nye said, as an optimist, he remained positive about the future.
“Consumers are resilient and with all the bad things that have happened, maybe people are looking forward to having a holiday and will want to come to a beautiful place like we live in,” he added.