CQ tourist attractions rebounding amid virus fallout
A RETURN of school holiday-makers to the Capricornia region post COVID-19 has proven both a timely and essential occasion to mark World Tourism Day.
Despite the pandemic wreaking havoc - temporarily ceasing one of its greatest economical sources - last week's celebrations instead recognised the industry's resilience.
Around 150 attendees gathered for the occasion, hearing from both industry experts and tourism operators on how their businesses were forced to adapt during the crisis.
Though not in attendance, Koorana Crocodile Farm's John Lever was one of many to share tales of their subsequent hardships.
He admitted the team was forced to get creative after the site closed its doors to visitors for a number of months - with more than 3000 crocs still needing to be fed.
Like many businesses, the team put to use the power of social media as they began to live stream their tours.
The impressive move resulted in the beloved tourist attraction amassing more than 9000 new followers, as well as launching its 'Adopt a Croc' initiative.
"Facing the knowledge that downsizing was essential when we had spent the last three decades building up numbers was definitely a huge obstacle to overcome," he said.
"We submitted the 'Adopt a Croc' idea as a story to all news channels creating an innovative way to overcome the costs of feeding the 3000 crocs with no income."
The response from the wider Central Queensland community, added Mr Lever, further reinforced just how iconic the farm was to the region's growing tourism.
"I was amazed and quite humbled by the response from the public - even kids were donating their pocket money to help feed the crocs," he said.
"The Adopt a Croc project will continue as long as I have crocs to sponsor as it breaks down the barrier that has been between humans and crocs and creates an extended family interest in knowing more about crocodile behaviour - an educational process".
READ MORE: Crew faces hiccups as monster croc is released
Tourism Minister Kate Jones assured the sector had been a major focus of the Palaszczuk Government's economic recovery strategy.
"Tourism is absolutely vital to Queensland's economy. I've seen first-hand how tourism operators have struggled throughout this pandemic," she said.
"That's why we've delivered more than any other state government in Australia towards support for our tourism industry."
Minister Jones added more than half-a-billion dollars had already been invested to support struggling tourism operators in their recovery efforts.