TOURISM boss Mary Carroll has thrown her support behind a Rockhampton Ring Road after business leader Peter Fraser slammed the billion-dollar project.
Yesterday Mr Fraser said the bypass would be detrimental to businesses which relied on passing traffic, particularly the accommodation and hospitality industries.
While Mr Fraser demanded economic modelling to show the financial impact on local business, Ms Carroll believes Rockhampton operators could still thrive with the ring road in place.
“As the major service centre for numerous industries, Rockhampton is the capital of Central Queensland, boasting a strategic location between Brisbane and Townsville so a ring road will not change that fact,” she said.
“From a visitor’s perspective, Rocky has long been the natural stopping off point for travellers driving north, with many accommodation operators along the highway welcoming visitors for only one night with no urgent incentive to sell packages which include longer stays and visits to our local attractions.”
Ms Carroll said the more prevalent issue was that the Capricorn Coast has always had to work much harder to encourage visitors to turn off the Pacific Coast Touring Route.
“There are a few accommodation operators in Rocky, not located on the highway, who are pro-actively packaging and working with us to increase their tourism trade distribution channels to receive bookings well before visitors travel up the east coast of Australia and it is working,” she said.
The tourism icon for the region encourages all accommodation operators to actively engage with Capricorn Enterprises as their regional tourism organisation.
The Rockhampton Ring Road will provide a western link of the Bruce Hwy to the west of Rockhampton, with key linkages into the city at the Capricorn Hwy, Ridgelands Rd, Alexandra St and Yaamba Rd,
“Ring roads in other locations in Australia, like Yass and Goulburn actually made them better towns, because they worked harder in product development, packaging and beautifying their towns to attract visitors as a destination, as opposed to just stop-overs,” Ms Carroll said.
The project’s final costing is yet to be established, but is estimated between $1-1.5 billion, with planning expected to be completed by the end of next year.