Home NewsAustralia What turned a region known for fruit and flower festivals into Queensland’s criminal badlands? And can it recover?

What turned a region known for fruit and flower festivals into Queensland’s criminal badlands? And can it recover?

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What turned a region known for fruit and flower festivals into Queensland’s criminal badlands? And can it recover?

Southern Queensland — as soon as identified for its gardens and bushwalking — has had its fame become that of a hazard zone, in line with its peak tourism group.  

Previously three months, the area has skilled a fatal terrorist attack, police siege, shootings, assaults, stabbings, in addition to a significant bushfire brought on by arson that destroyed 18 homes.

All incidents occurred inside a spread of 250 kilometres, and several other occurred in Toowoomba’s CBD.

Though remoted occasions, the prevalence of violence and crime has made nationwide headlines.

It has additionally prompted an pressing community crime forum, held in Toowoomba final week.

Southern Queensland Nation Tourism (SQCT) chief govt Peter Homan mentioned the harm to the area’s fame was already executed.

“Individuals shortly overlook pure disasters, extra so than they do violence and crime,” Mr Homan mentioned. 

“It is about branding.”

Welcome to Toowoomba sign surrounded by flowers
Toowoomba has been often called Australia’s Backyard Metropolis for the reason that Nineteen Forties, however lately it is made headlines for its crime.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

The repair? Positivity. Quick. 

Whereas SQCT didn’t have a selected marketing campaign to counter the current adverse press, Mr Homan mentioned one resolution was for the group to publish its pre-planned marketing campaign earlier.

“It is a matter of getting these good tales out into the market as nicely, and attempt to get them in entrance of any unhealthy publicity,” he mentioned.

“We’re coming into occasions season just like the Chinchilla Melon Pageant.

“These recollections of watermelon dripping down your chin and spitting out the seeds actually helped overcome any negativity points for us.”

Peter Homan, from the Outback Queensland Tourism Association, stands in a field with hands on hips at Winton.
Peter Homan says Southern Queensland must push positive-angled tales into the media.(ABC Information)

Mr Homan mentioned the group has learnt from an unsuccessful tourism push it launched after the drought. 

“After we have been proper within the grip of that drought there have been some individuals who wished to utilise the drought as a motive for individuals to journey,” he mentioned.

“It is simply the flawed message.

“I believe you have to underline the nice property and the rationale why individuals wish to journey, whether or not that be strolling tracks or nature tourism.

“[Negative press] has been on each entrance web page, each state and nationwide TV. We have got an enormous job forward of us.”

close up of caravan door
Vacationers to the area must really feel secure.(ABC Southern Queensland: Kemii Maguire)

Mr Homan was assured the area’s fame might bounce again, supplied state and native authorities stepped as much as the duty. 

“The place councillors present the perfect funding for tourism is in parks, gardens and strolling tracks. They’re most likely the most important gamers in tourism,” he mentioned.

“It is [also] a matter of the state authorities placing the fitting plans in place, the fitting laws, to manage that crime.”

Caravan park pleas for vacationers to remain

Toowoomba was not the one metropolis throughout regional Queensland to undergo from a fame drawback.

Mount Isa caravan park supervisor Kylie Rixon mentioned this yr had been the worst she had seen for crime. 

“The crime we’re seeing is totally opportunistic,” Ms Rixon mentioned. 

“If you are going to go away your grog, smokes or cash out the possibilities are … it will not be there the subsequent morning.

“There is definitely no discrimination in opposition to vacationers or locals. It is everybody on the town.”

Smiling headshot of Sunset Caravan Park manager Kylie Rixon.
Kylie Rixon says she will get enquiries each day asking if it is secure to return to Mount Isa.(ABC Information: Zara Margolis)

Ms Rixon has taken it upon herself to make sure vacationers felt protected and secure. 

“We’ve got had enquiries each single day saying, ‘I’ve heard it is unhealthy’,” she mentioned. 

“I discovered that the bookings weren’t actually affected, however the communication and the issues we did to make sure that individuals felt secure, and that we have been defending our company, was time-consuming.

“It is simply numerous work put into reassuring people who it is OK. Simply lock your stuff up.”

car towing caravan
Mount Isa, like many regional areas, has skilled a criminal offense wave which has grown over a number of years.(ABC Southern Queensland: Kemii Maguire)

Ms Rixon mentioned she hoped the general public would look past the city’s headlines.

“Do not let that fame put you off coming, as a result of these small cities and our areas depend on tourism,” she mentioned. 

“It is my blood, sweat and tears. That is our lifeline.

“We’re nonetheless group and it will break my coronary heart for individuals to not go to due to that [crime].”

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