Capped camping numbers hurting business

Livelihoods are on the line in Rainbow Beach and business owners want campsites reopened

Livelihoods are on the line in Rainbow Beach and business owners want campsites reopened

The Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism (RBCT) Committee have petitioned Queensland’s peak business body, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCQI) to work with National Parks so more campsites open and businesses survive. Despite 12 months of questioning, RBCT say no answers are forthcoming. This is an extract from their appeal.

Rainbow Beach tourism is suffering significantly due to numbers being capped from 2300 to 1190 post COVID at the Inskip camping ground. We have received no communication or been in any discussion with any government department regarding the economical impact our businesses or industry may suffer due to the decrease in numbers.

It is understood that there is a requirement to comply with the QPWS Campgrounds COVID Safe Industry Plan approved by the Chief Health Officer. However again this has not been discussed with business or industry and the economical effects it has on local businesses.

During COVID campgrounds were shut (understandably) and wood constructions were built around them so no one could enter. However, post COVID there has been no change and the campgrounds, day use areas are still closed.

Gastro outbreak was the next excuse to limit campers, the campground was closed for 72 hours and the campers were told to go home. No other areas were opened for the campers that were planning to come during the 72 hours. No business or industry within Rainbow Beach was contacted. RBCT was not contacted. Business suffered dramatically as most local businesses rely on the camping trade.

Businesses in Rainbow Beach are suffering and continue to suffer without any direction, discussion or resolution.

Some businesses report customer numbers were down by almost 2500 in a week, others stated trade reduced by 20%, down to 50% for some businesses. Vehicle trip numbers were down 60% on the barge, due to both camping restrictions and island closure due to fires. One mobile beach vendor closed as a direct result of the COVID lockdown.

Most, if not all, local shop traders have complained that figures are down on the same period last year. This result is due to the lack of campers buying daily perishables like milk, bread and meat.

Cafes and takeaway vendors have highlighted that there are less people stopping for lunch, and or breakfast on their way to the local campgrounds or Fraser Island.  Service stations both in Rainbow Beach and as far as Goomboorian have sold significantly less fuel when comparing prior years.

Communication from QPWS and Partnerships representative to one of the business owners found it very conflicting as other campsites (such as Caravan Parks) do not have these restrictive conditions, e.g. is there 15 to 20 metres between campsites?

Why are our capped figures less than the COVID safety directions?

Why not open up more campsites/grounds? Some campgrounds have been closed for rejuvenation for over 10 years?

Why are no groups of more than 20 able to book campsites? Where does this figure come from? There are no 20 visitor restrictions in pubs, clubs, caravan parks, parks, beaches, picnic areas, etc. So, we question why Inskip Campgrounds?

Why are persons at specific campsites serviced by toilet facilities limited to a maximum of 100 persons per toilet block facility? Most campsites have their own toilet system. Is there any statistic collection for this fact? Again why are parks, clubs, caravan parks not restricted?

Historically, rules and numbers have continuously been limited on Teewah Beach, due to such things as falling rocks, reckless drivers and high tides, etc. We believe that politicians and bureaucrats are making decisions with no knowledge of, or interest in, the repercussions of businesses that are drastically affected by these decisions.

When 5km of Teewah Beach has recently been closed for camping there was no consultation with businesses that this drastic decision affected, or why.

Were any economic figures generated to display the loss of revenue this would create for our businesses and tourism industry?

Where is the money going for the driving and camping permits? Certainly not on increasing amenities and opening up clean camping grounds. Certainly not on tourism drives.

In conclusion, we would strongly state that there has been a huge lack of consultation. It seems that rules and procedures have been made up on the spot without any consideration of the effects that it may cause to local trade, businesses, tourism or the general population of such a small town.

We would like some communication including answers, consultation, future plans and decisions to help our suffering business community.

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