Early morning at Bargara Esplanade.
Early morning at Bargara Esplanade.

How Bundy region’s tourism fared amid chaos of 2020

Local businesses have been praised for their efforts navigating the global pandemic.

Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid said the Bundaberg tourism industry had fared "reasonably well" in comparison to other regions around Australia.

While international visitors and expenditure did drop throughout the early months of COVID, the region had welcomed holiday makers, friends and family travellers since Queensland travel restrictions eased in June.

Ms Reid said the region was already established as an ideal drive holiday destination for Australians and had appreciated consistent domestic visitation in the last six months of 2020.

"There is a strong demand for cafes, tours and experiences around the region," she said.

"With many tourism and hospitality businesses still operating at a reduced capacity with COVID social distancing restrictions, they are turning people away or putting people on standby."

While there's no visitor number or expenditure data available after June 2020, the Tourism Research Australia's international visitor survey results highlight how Bundaberg weathered the peak of the pandemic.

According to TRA, Bundaberg's number of visitors decreased from 44,000 for the year ending June 2019 to 32,000 in June 2020.

With fewer visitors, regional expenditure was also down in the year ending June 2020.

The data for Bundaberg highlights a drop from $40m for the year ending June 2019 to only $15m come June 2020.


Bundaberg Post Office
Bundaberg Post Office

She said the change in border restrictions just before Christmas for New South Wales and Victoria did result in a small percentage of holiday cancellations, but they were able to be back filled by Queenslanders reasonably quickly.

"The region has handled COVID-19 incredibly well," Ms Reid said.

"There's no denying it was extremely tough in the beginning as businesses navigated the new terms of social distancing and contact tracing, and what that meant for them, but most businesses across the region have adopted the new practices and some are even seeing additional benefits from their changes.

"From restaurants taking pre-bookings, having set seating times and QR code check ins, everyone has adapted extraordinarily well."


Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid.
Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid.

With the new year now well underway, Ms Reid said there were reports of strong accommodation occupancy in the region throughout the New Year period and interest online with potential visitors researching the various information and itineraries available at bundabergregion.org.

While forward bookings into the year are a "little light" at this stage, she said they had noticed a shift in the booking patterns of travellers.

"With uncertainty around travel restrictions and borders, we have certainly seen an increase in search for last minute holiday deals and bookings," Ms Reid said.

The region's popular Mon Repos Turtle Encounter tours have undoubtedly been a hit with solid bookings throughout until the end of the season.

Though there are still some spots available on January 26, 27, 28 and 31.

You can book your spot here.


Hatchlings at the Mon Repos Conservation Park. Picture: Tourism Australia
Hatchlings at the Mon Repos Conservation Park. Picture: Tourism Australia