Tourism region’s plea: we’re still open for business
A HUGE drop off in tourism numbers following last year's bushfires is making recovery efforts difficult for a resilient region already struggling through the impact of drought.
Some Scenic Rim residents who lost homes or saw significant damage to properties are still picking up the pieces after the fires.
With tourists reluctant to venture back into the area, the entire region is feeling the pain in what is usually a boom period.
The hit to tourism operators - one reported a 90 per cent drop off in its usual November to January trade - has flown on to other businesses.
Mayor Greg Christensen said the council is working with affected residents to help them rebuild but the disaster had brought out the best in people.
"(Residents who have lost homes) are on a plan for recovery," he said.
"Binna Burra is well advanced with their planning for recovery. The challenge is the road damage was so severe, they still don't have full access to get on with the clean up.
"In the south and west, from Mount Barney to Tarome, the impacts there are mainly felt by primary producers who are coming to grip with no fodder.
"Many of them spent two months fighting fires and it was only at Christmas when they got home and assessed what was going on with their properties.
"We're trying to get that information (on funding) to assist them."
Mr Christensen believed tourist thought the region was a no-go zone.
He wanted to assure them the Scenic Rim was open for business and urged people, especially from Ipswich and Brisbane, to take the time to visit.
"There's a general feeling from people to stay away," he said.
"Our visitor economy has really suffered significantly.
"The majority of the region is unaffected by fire, it remains well and truly open and enthusiastic to welcome people in.
"Everyone is doing it tough.
"There are some pockets that are seeing weekend traffic (pick up) but the accommodation side is struggling."
Mr Christensen said he was heartened by the reaction of residents and community groups to help their neighbours in the face of horrific conditions.
"We're funny people," he said.
"We're still celebrating we had no loss of life.
"But it's a long road ahead."
Attention for the council now turns to addressing water restrictions, alongside assisting residents impacted by the fires.
"We're resilient people,"
"We get up in the morning and get on with it."