TOWN PROUD: A golden sunset over the Hotel Australia in Miles. Pic: Grant Schmidt
TOWN PROUD: A golden sunset over the Hotel Australia in Miles. Pic: Grant Schmidt

Huge tourism numbers gives economic boom to Miles businesses

MILES has experienced its highest rate of visitors in more than a decade as tourists flock to south west Queensland, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy of the small country towns.

Struggling with the ongoing drought and the impacts of COVID-19, the caravan-lined streets have been a welcome sight for business owners.

Miles and district chamber of commerce president Scott Cawley the spike in local tourism has been amazing to witness.

“You just have to drive through town, and you instantly notice the number of caravans that are about, and it’s not just grey nomads” Mr Cawley said.

“COVID-19 might be drawing more visitors as more people are travelling within Queensland with boarders being closed.

“People also seem to just want to help, and are travelling to inject money into small towns – there seems to be a growing awareness of regional Australia.

“There’s no doubt the travellers have been good for local businesses… from hardwear, accommodation, and retail.

Miles is lucky, Mr Cawley said, as it is “situated at a crossroads, so we get the benefit of people travelling from all directions.”

Council spokeswoman for tourism, events, and regional promotion councillor Kylie Bourne said, despite the challenges of COVID-19, the region was experiencing an increase in tourist activity.

CANCELLED: Although the Miles back to the Bush Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19, Abrahams Drapery owner Ralph Long said some travellers still made the trip to Miles to support the local community.
CANCELLED: Although the Miles back to the Bush Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19, Abrahams Drapery owner Ralph Long said some travellers still made the trip to Miles to support the local community.

“Over the past two months Miles has experienced its highest rate of visitors in more than a decade, and we’re also hearing of strong visitation in our other towns as well, which is absolutely wonderful for local businesses,” Cr Bourne said.

“The Miles Visitor Information Centre and Historical Village Museum are reporting a variety of travellers including families and couples, with many visiting Miles for the first time.

“The Western Downs has so much to offer and unique experiences to tweak a range of interests. Queenslanders are clearly choosing to head west and explore their own state and we’re absolutely eager to welcome them.”

Another positive aspect of the coronavirus, Mr Cawley said, was that local businesses have also seen an increase in people shopping locally.

“At a recent chamber meeting, it was mentioned that COVID-19 is been the best platform for buy-shop local,” he joked.

Abrahams Drapery owners and husband and wife team Ralph and Lenore Long said, some days their clothing store in Miles is filled with tourists.

“We’ve noticed a big push from people wanting to shop in small country towns,” Mr Long said.

Mr Long said a lot of the tourists said they decided to check out regional Queensland as their overseas trip had been cancelled due to COVID-19.

“A lot of them have seen the world, but not their own backyard, so now they’re making the effort to, and they’re cashed up which helps,” he said.

Mr Long said the biggest influx in sales was “when the New South Wales border shut and travel restrictions were lifted from 200km, a lot of people were buying more.”


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