FEELING THE PINCH: The Apple and Grape Motel owners Steve and Helen Ward said they weren't booked out in advance like other years.
FEELING THE PINCH: The Apple and Grape Motel owners Steve and Helen Ward said they weren't booked out in advance like other years. Amy Kadel

Numbers drop for hotels

WITH the Easter break coming to a close, a number of hotels in the Stanthorpe region have recorded a slower than normal holiday period.

Shaun Cox from the High Street Motor Inn reported more vacancies in 2017 than he has seen in recent years and felt this was the case for a lot of operators.

"This Easter was slower than previous years for us,” Mr Cox said.

"I think the lack of bookings across the region really affected us. Normally there is a ripple effect, but with the other hotels closer to town not filling up prior to Easter, things were definitely slower.”

Head of marketing at Top of the Town Tourist Park Franki Moore said they too felt the pinch and attributed it to travellers passing through Stanthorpe, rather than choosing to spend the weekend.

"Our numbers were down 14% on last year,” Mrs Moore said.

"In previous years people have seen Stanthorpe as a destination in its own right, however this year it seemed to be a transit stop for people going elsewhere.”

Helen Ward, owner of Apple and Grape Motel, believes the lack of events on offer in Stanthorpe over the Easter break could have been partly to blame.

"In previous years we have had things like the oversized treasure hunt or a cross country which has seen us booked out months in advance.”

Since the release of Southern Downs Regional Council's draft 2017-2018 Budget, tourism has proved a key concern for members of the community - and the Easter weekend's results have done little to quell such concern.

Granite Belt Community Association president Alan Colyer felt the budget overlooked tourism altogether.

"There is no distinct allocation for tourism anywhere in the budget,” Mr Colyer said.

"A number of matters need reviewing as there are varying holes and tourism is certainly one of them.”

Local accommodation operator Marion Carrick feels the budget leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the future of tourism in Stanthorpe.

"There's not a lot of information in there from a tourism perspective,” Ms Carrick said.

"Primarily, at this point in time we just need answers to questions as to what they are doing as far as tourism funding is concerned.

"Councillors have said that Southern Queensland Country Tourism funding is in the budget; however, it is not specifically mentioned anywhere that I can see.”

Southern Downs Regional Council's Chief Executive Officer David Keenan reiterated the councillors' statements.

"Council has placed a draft Budget on exhibition seeking public comment,” Mr Keenan said.

"Membership of SQCT is included in the draft Budget.”

Mr Keenan also stated that Visitor Information Centres would continue to operate as they do currently.

The budget community consultation period closes at 5pm on May 10.