Indigenous Gulf country tourism operator hopes Queensland border reopens
Gulf of Queensland tour operators fear the barrel of financial ruin if the state border does not fully reopen soon.
- Indigenous tourism business has had a successful start to the season, but numbers plummet following closures in NSW and Victoria
- Yagurli Tours capitalized on domestic tourism boom during pandemic
- He says his survival depends on reopening interstate borders in time for next year’s season
Indigenous-owned Yagurli Tours has had a bumper tourist season this year, but warns its pool of new customers will dry up without interstate arrivals.
“I literally got a phone call this morning from a lady in Victoria who already wanted to book for 2022,” said COO Peter Ridley.
“[When] they started announcing closures in New South Wales and Victoria, the numbers started to drop and in particular the second half of August fell a lot. “
Borders block demand
Burketown-based Yagurli Tours is owned and operated by the Gangalidda and Garawa people and relies on first-time and one-time trips, rather than repeat customers, given its remote location.
So far, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has capitalized on the domestic tourism boom as Australians explore their territory as the international border is closed.
“Adventurers, gray nomads, scientists, we hope for a tote [opportunity]”said community leader Murandoo Yanner.
The company saw its customer base increase by 100% in June 2021 and experienced an overall growth of 64% during the peak tourism months of May, June, July and August.
But sales have since plummeted.
“August, which is usually our biggest month, was our third biggest month this time around,” Mr Ridley said.
Gulf tourism businesses needed a constant flow of new visitors, many of whom came from the highway, he said.
“On social media, we certainly get a lot more recognition from the people who experience and share it.
“It helps us to develop the New South Wales and Victoria markets, if we can attract more and more people it has a snowball effect.”
Unparalleled cultural experiences
Yagurli, which means “fish” in the local gangalidda language, was created in 2017 by community leader Murrandoo Yanner.
The company employs four local indigenous men, who are current or former rangers, to organize its tours and experiences on land, on the water and in the air.
Mr Ridley said the men enjoyed sharing their cultural knowledge with visitors.
“They have a huge knowledge of flora, fauna, geography, geology and they know a lot about the history of the region,” he said.
“[We] to create a truly unique experience that can satisfy the greatest number of people, whether they are honeymooners, tourists or people working in the field of scientific weather, ”said Mr. Yanner.