FULLY BOOKED: Vineyard Cottages co-owner Simon Bull said the increase in bookings was almost overnight.
FULLY BOOKED: Vineyard Cottages co-owner Simon Bull said the increase in bookings was almost overnight. Emily Clooney

Staggering tourism boom credited to lockdown

INTEREST in the Granite Belt has grown exponentially over the past month, as Queenslanders look to explore regions on their doorstep.

Popular booking site Wotif recorded a 1030 per cent increase in searches for hotels and motels in Ballandean and Stanthorpe over a four-week period.

The increase in web hits has been seen across the region, with many hotels booked out until August.

"Without a doubt (it's increased). We're booked out for the next five weeks," Ballandean's Vineyard Cottages co-owner Simon Bull said.

"In peak times, I guess you're 70 per cent full.

"But I can be booked out three times over at the moment, (the phone) doesn't stop ringing."

The dramatic increase in bookings is appreciated by business owners across the region, who are on the bounce back after coronavirus restrictions threatened to derail the 2020 winter season.

Mr Bull said tourists' eagerness to get out of the house and explore the region was working in businesses' favour, with many unable to accommodate everyone.

"I think it's saving us right now. There are probably to many people for the region to cope with every day," he said.

"But they don't seem to mind that there's queues or that they have to book, they're just happy to be out of the house."

New research from Wotif indicates three in four families would prioritise holidaying locally, even when international travel restrictions are lifted.

Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said there was a new appreciation among Australians to travel domestically.

"While travel demand is returning for the country's regular hot spots, many regional areas like Ballandean and Stanthorpe are seeing unprecedented interest on the site," he said.

"With so much good food to devour and beautiful scenery to explore, a foodie escape to Stanthorpe and Ballandean in the greater Southern Downs area is the perfect choice for a relaxing family getaway."

While winter remains the peak time to visit the Granite Belt, Mr Bull hopes the popularity of the region will grow in spring and autumn.

"I think every region needs its quiet time to have a catch-up, but definitely spring and autumn can be marketed perhaps a little different," he said.

"Although people love being cold but there's more to this region than a fireplace, and this is helping that cause."