A Turtle Hatchling makes a break for the ocean after climbing free from their nest in the dunes on Mon Repos near Bundaberg. Photo Lachie Millard
A Turtle Hatchling makes a break for the ocean after climbing free from their nest in the dunes on Mon Repos near Bundaberg. Photo Lachie Millard Lachie Millard

Turtle tourism helps drive region's economy

AS the Queensland Government reviews how the region's turtle population is protected in the wake of a controversial high-rise development, new figures show just how vital the hard-shelled locals are to Bundaberg's blossoming tourism industry.

Advance bookings for the Mon Repos Turtle Encounter have nearly doubled compared to the same period last season.

Bundaberg Tourism general manager Katherine Reid said the encounter attracted about 30,000 people each season, with more than 25,000 of those travelling from outside the region.

Ms Reid said despite a tighter tourism budget than in previous years, the industry was enjoying a significant upturn.

"The Bundaberg region offers a unique tourism experience, being so close to Brisbane and the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and years of hard work by the whole of the tourism industry to develop world-class experiences and let the world know they're here are really paying off,” Ms Reid said.

"The strong numbers for the 2018/19 season are showing us that not only is our destination marketing campaign working, but that the reputation of the experience and of the whole region is getting significant traction both in Australia and around the world.”

Last season, the turtle encounter had a total of 29678 visitors with approximately 17800 Queenslanders, 2800 from interstate, 3700 from outside Australia and 5200 locals flocking to Mon Repos for the unique experience.

Tourism operators are gearing up for a bumper summer.

Lady Musgrave Experience owner Brett Lakey said the company was on track for a really big season.

"Our bookings over summer are looking great, especially the week between Christmas and New Year,” he said.

Kellys Beach Resort business director Loni Hammond said it was an exciting time.

"December is ahead from last year by three per cent, January by five per cent and February 21 per cent,” she said.