Community & Business

17 April, 2024

Shire ready for tourist boom

MILLIONS of dollars are set to flow into the region over the coming months as the tourist and event season kicks off for 2024.

Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre volunteers Margaret Tabone, Gail Campbell and Mary Thompson are excited to welcome people back to the region.
Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre volunteers Margaret Tabone, Gail Campbell and Mary Thompson are excited to welcome people back to the region.

From the Great Wheelbarrow Race, the Mareeba Rodeo and the Great Northern Bullriding Series to the Multicultural Festival and Savannah in the Round, all of the region’s biggest events are set to attract tourists from across the country to the Shire over the coming months. 

Visitor numbers have already soared above pre-Covid levels, with 162,840 local, domestic and international tourists greeted at Mareeba and Kuranda Visitor Information Centres in the 2022-23 financial year. 

Data recorded from 2021-22 also showed over $172 million was spent in the Mareeba Shire during the April-October tourist season, with Local Tourism Organisation (LTO) member Cr Nipper Brown predicting more this year. 

Cr Brown has been involved with the Mareeba Heritage Museum, Savannah in the Round, Mareeba Rodeo and many other tourism drivers in the region and has seen firsthand how local events positively impact the overall economy of the Mareeba Shire. 

“You can see that the increase in numbers was coming off the shoulders of our tourism season, with an increase in festivals happening, which has been really good,” Cr Brown said.

“The grey nomads also expand those numbers, coming up from down south.

“(This season) is very important to our area, particularly Kuranda, which survives on tourism. So we need to make sure people know that we are here and that they can come up to us.”

Cr Brown said the LTO had been working on more social media campaigns to increase interest in the region and had already created the “Visit Mareeba Shire” Facebook group alongside the Mareeba Chamber of Commerce. 

“So far, social media has played a big part in showcasing what we as a shire have to offer and all the unique experiences people can have here,” Cr Brown said.

“Whether that be Mareeba Rodeo, Savannah in the Round ... it is a different experience having these events in this part of the world, so we need to get it out there more and tell people we are here and we are buzzing.”  

Kuranda Koala Gardens wildlife supervisor Bridie Beck said the Easter school holidays was when numbers particularly started to pick up for their business and for the majority of Kuranda. 

She said the majority of their visitors came through at the beginning of the tourism season and during September and October. 

“It’s mainly more the locals during that time, especially during September and October, coming through and a few interstate tourists as well,” she said. 

“The really important message is that we are still here and there is a lot of stuff to do here in our little unique town. There is stuff in our shire that you can’t find anywhere else.”  

Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin said it was very encouraging to see the significant increase in visitor numbers to the shire.

“It is wonderful to see tourists are returning to the area following the pandemic,” she said.

“As major asset owners, service providers and decision-makers, local government authorities are key influencers and contributors to the visitor experience, and it is reassuring to see that visitors are continuing to pick our shire as a destination of choice.” 

Deputy Mayor and LTO chair Cr Lenore Wyatt said she was proud to see the Mareeba Shire becoming a great tourist destination as a result of the growth in events across the region.  

“Events are an important part of raising awareness of the Mareeba Shire as a destination among local, national and international visitors,” she said. 

“In addition, events encourage visitor spending and overnight visitation in the region and local businesses and tourism operators can leverage events to promote their products and experiences.

“Our shire reaps the benefits of these events long after they conclude, and it is wonderful to see how our events continue to grow.”


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