Carole Henry with her extra Elton John tickets that she plans to put towards an accommodation package.
Carole Henry with her extra Elton John tickets that she plans to put towards an accommodation package. Jacob Miley

Elton John concert's good for business

WHEN Carole Henry heard Elton John was coming to Mackay she knew exactly what to do.

The owner of La Solana Holiday Units at Blacks Beach said she hadn't been booked out for the past couple of years but thanks to the Once in a Lifetime concert, things had been turned around.

"As soon as I heard Elton John was coming to Mackay, I sent out a Facebook post to all of the country area around Mackay - Moranbah, Clermont, Nebo and as far north as Bowen - and about 15 minutes later my phone started ringing," Ms Henry said.

She's now fully booked for that popular September weekend, although she is holding a couple of extra tickets to put together a special accommodation and Elton John concert package.

"I think something like this increases the business to the restaurants, the cafes and even the clothing shops - people want a new outfit to wear - it brings a lot of money to the area," Ms Henry said.

"It's a little bit like the cruise ships that go into Airlie Beach, they inject a lot of money into the local community.

"We need a lot more of these events."

Ms Henry said small businesses had struggled a great deal in the last couple of years, and events like this were giving them an injection of capital.

"It also puts us on the map as well because it will be in the news, people will hear and see a bit more about Mackay," she said.

Closer to the city and the concert venue, Potters Oceanside Motel in East Mackay also sold out after the release of Elton John tickets, general manager Richard Condon said.

"It was quite amazing, the first morning after the announcement I had a look at the computer and saw all of these bookings come through and didn't think of Elton John," he said.

"As I opened the bookings up one by one, I saw they were all for one date and that was for the 22nd September."

He agreed the town needed more events like the concert, "to get tourism back into Mackay".

Mackay Tourism general manager Tas Webber said accommodation providers were filling up quickly for the September period, especially around the date of the Elton John concert, but the organisation's main priority was getting visitors to increase their length of stay.

"Mackay Tourism's focus will be on facilitating visitor dispersal throughout the region, so we will be heavily promoting our hero experiences in Cape Hillsborough, Eungella and Finch Hatton... and the huge variety of things to see and do around the region," he said.

According to Tourism Research Australia, international tourists visiting Mackay has jumped 11% in 2016, with 47,000 visitors compared to 43,000 in 2015.

However, the report also showed visitors were enjoying shorter stays in the region.

Ms Henry, who also owns a bed & breakfast in Airlie Beach, said Mackay still had a lot of work to do to become a destination in its own right, but acknowledged the town was improving.



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