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Capricorn Coast tourism businesses say floods cost thousands due to misinformation

Scott Rollinson, Thursday April 13, 2017 - 17:36 EST
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Tourism groups say disruption caused by cyclone Debbie and the flooding that followed has cost the Capricorn Coast industry hundreds of thousands of dollars. - ABC licensed

Hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars lost is the verdict from businesses on the Capricorn Coast who say Cyclone Debbie and flooding in the nearby Fitzroy River has cost them dearly.

But the losses have nothing to do with damage.

They are blaming social media, news reports and shaky grasps on geography for tourists cancelling planned visits to the region.

Southern markets might need 'geography lesson'

"I think some of our southern markets might need a geography lesson about the size of Queensland," said Graeme Scott from the Livingstone Shire Council, which covers the Capricorn Coast region near Rockhampton.

While tourism operators around the Whitsundays continue to recover from Debbie's force, the Capricorn Coast to the south was relatively unaffected and is ready for visitors.

"They might be open for business in the next month or two [but] we're open for business right now," Mr Scott said.

"Anything we can do to support the Whitsundays we will, but we need that support and we need people to come and support what we've got here."

Mr Scott said the recent rain freshened up the region, and they are ready to put on a good display for visitors.

"That natural environment has basically had a nice shower and a clean up," he said.

Social media misinformation hurts tourism

Paul Ewan runs Cool Waters Holiday Park at Kinka Beach on the Capricorn Coast, and says misinformation in reporting and its spread on social media is to blame for a hit to his business.

"We've had significant losses in cancellations through the media not putting it out there for what it is," he said.

"We are open and we won't be cut off, we haven't got bad weather here, we're not flooded and we're not damaged.

"In four days, including our school camps, we had over $60,000 worth of cancellations.

"Once they're cancelled you're not really ever getting that back, so it does hit you, definitely."

T-shirts and shorts all winter

Mr Ewan said other tourism businesses he works with, including Freedom Fastcats, Capricorn Caverns and Koorana Crocodile Farm, would have lost about $30,000 just from his own guests' cancellations.

"People's perception is once they get past the Sunny Coast everything is north Queensland," he said.

"This is central Queensland here, and then it's another five or six hours until you get to north Queensland, and then far north Queensland, so there was a bit of people not knowing where it was."

Tourism operators now want the world to know they are open for business, and heading in to the winter months they have a plan to once again attract tourists from the south.

"You can walk around in a t-shirt and shorts through the whole winter period. It's amazing," Mr Ewan said.


© ABC 2017

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