Drought drives down visitation

Dubbo Regional Council is saddened to see a drop in visitation to Visitor Information Centres by about 20% during the month of December 2019, when compared to the same period in 2018. With the impact of drought and perceptions from potential visitors that the region is running out of water, tourism is also taking a huge hit.

At the Wellington Caves, just 1,989 tickets were sold in December 2019 – a significant drop when compared to 2,583 tickets sold in 2018. The week that took the biggest hit was the traditionally busy Christmas – New Year period, where 1,306 tickets were sold between 24 December 2019 and 1 January 2020. That’s compared to 1,674 for the same period the year before.

“We understand that this is a tough time across the east coast of Australia, ongoing drought has affected regional leisure spending and road transport from our city counterparts was limited during our usual peak visitation period with fires causing significant closures.

Yes, it has been hot in the Dubbo Region, and we are being responsible with our water but what better way to escape the heat than coming down to the Wellington Caves, where temperatures are about 18 degrees Celsius year-round - you certainly don’t need an air conditioner for that!” said Mayor of the Dubbo Region Councillor Ben Shields.

There has also been a decline in visitation to the Old Dubbo Gaol by 12.22% for the December 2019 period, compared to December 2018.

“If you want to learn a little bit of history, but still keep cool, why not escape the heat of the day and come along to one of our night tours or twilight tours at the Old Dubbo Gaol, which run all through the school holidays,” Clr Shields said.

Manager Economic Development and Marketing Josie Howard said the Visitor Information Centre staff are available to assist people with any enquiries potential visitors might have – and dispel any mistruths about the region’s water supply.

“Although we don’t have any specific data to back up exactly why there has been a decrease, anecdotally, staff at the Visitor Information Centre have responded to many calls and walk-ins, asking about water availability – some even bringing their own drinking water thinking there isn’t enough available in the region, and that’s certainly not the case” Ms Howard said.

However, a really positive outcome off the back of the Buy Local or Bye Local and Buy from the Bush movement, many travellers and locals, have come into the Visitor Information Centres to buy regional produce and locally handmade products for Christmas to support small business in the region.

“We want to thank everyone who has visited the Region in their holidays; and we’d love it if people can spread the word that Dubbo is still here, that it’s still a fun, family holiday destination and we’re still operating businesses. Service is still great and our water supply will be able to cater for visitors.

For those who are worried, local motels and caravan parks have been supplied with information packs they can give to visitors, which have some handy hints and tips about how to be wise with our water when visiting.

Our tourism is just as precious as our water, which is why we need visitors to keep flowing into the Dubbo Region!” Clr Shields said.

Wellington Caves

The Wellington Caves are a great place to escape the heat and cool down.