A Toogoolawah business owner says the tourism boost is likely a result of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. (File Image)
A Toogoolawah business owner says the tourism boost is likely a result of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. (File Image)

The small town welcoming a massive tourism boom

THERE’S more tourists in town visiting shops in the northern Somerset, according to a local business owner.

Josie Shennan, who operates Out There Cycling, says south east Queenslanders who would have booked overseas, or interstate travel are holidaying locally.

It’s a welcome boost for rural towns that would have previously missed out on an economic injection.

“Now that people can travel anywhere in Queensland, I thin people are embracing getting out local and assisting small towns as well,” Mrs Sheenan said.

It is peak tourism season for the Somerset region.

Having operated the business for four years, Mrs Sheenan estimated tourism numbers were almost double compared to last year.

Mrs Sheenan credits much of the tourism boom to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and the numerous stop-off points along the way.

“Even though the trail is 162km long and there’s a lot of people on it, sometimes it can seem like you’re the only person walking or riding the trail,” she said.

Earlier this year, Toogoolwah resident Tracey Jones opened a new shop in the town’s main street, Tracey Jones Boutique.

In Esk, pet groomer Corinne Chandler opened a permanent dog salon in Esk called Fur Baby Boutique.

Out There Cycling provides cyclist transfers, luggage transfer, bike hires and they organise tours and accommodation for those visiting the region.

Mrs Sheenan said she wasn’t completely booked out, but had bookings well in advance.

“The increase has enabled us to employ more people that live locally,” she said.

The tourism boom is a welcome cash flow injection for the region, which was impacted when coronavirus restrictions halted tourists from travelling more than 150km from home.

By staying in smaller towns, Mrs Sheenan said travellers were gaining a “local experience” when staying a day or two.

“People that are coming out who would have previously gone overseas or somewhere flashier are getting a more authentic experience staying in a local town,” she said.

“If you stay overnight in Toogoolawah, you get to feel what its like to be a local by walking down to the pub for dinner, or to the coffee shop.”