John Hayes from Fraser Roving Backpackers on the Torquay Esplanade is hopeful the backpacker industry will pick up in Hervey Bay.
John Hayes from Fraser Roving Backpackers on the Torquay Esplanade is hopeful the backpacker industry will pick up in Hervey Bay. Karleila Thomsen

Coast tourism industry in turmoil

TURMOIL has again engulfed the Fraser Coast tourism industry with another of its biggest backpacking operators closed.

BDO as receivers and managers confirmed the 100 bed Next Backpackers was forced to close its doors on Saturday.

BDO partner Helen Newman said her company had been monitoring the hostel since May last year and would now rid itself of the asset.

"I can confirm that the last day of trade (was) Saturday and the intention is for the property to now be sold," Ms Newman said.

Next Backpackers had housed Nomads Fraser Island Tour clients until the booking giant relocated its guests to Rainbow Beach in March.

Former Next manager Mark Juppenlatz suggested at the time that Rainbow Beach dominated the market by holding the majority of Fraser Island driving permits.

Yesterday, Fraser Roving Backpackers owner John Hayes - a Hervey Bay hostel operator of 11 years - claimed the local industry was haemorrhaging.

Mr Hayes said close to eight big players traded profitably in Hervey Bay's backpacker market before the GFC.

He said, of those, only two hostel and tour operators, and a couple of minor players remained.

He warned Fraser Coast's economy would continue to suffer severe repercussions unless business and government moved quickly.

"No one is doing anything about it," Mr Hayes said.

"You can see by all the shops closed about town how much the region is suffering and it will get worse.

"We're not travelling real well ourselves and realistically could be the next one to go - that's 100 beds out of the local region and when the industry does pick back up, 100 fewer beds in the Fraser Coast.

"Tourism Fraser Coast, Tourism Queensland, the Fraser Coast Regional Council and the LNP government need to do something."

Tourism Fraser Coast board of directors member David Hay said the industry's representative was aware of the grim situation operators faced.

"There are both organisations and individuals with vested interests in Rainbow Beach who have power in the booking distribution system and the ability to push business into Rainbow Beach as opposed to this end," Mr Hay said.


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