Toowoomba faces room shortage for Carnival of Flowers

UP TO one in 10 hotel rooms in Toowoomba could be unavailable for the busy Carnival of Flowers period.

The temporary closure of the Quest on Margaret St as a result of the fire that destroyed Amigo's Bar and Grill has put massive pressure on room availability in the city heading into tourist season.

Toowoomba Accommodation Providers spokesman Tony Heckendorf said the Quest and the Burke and Wills Hotel, which is closed for 12 months for renovations, made up about 10 per cent of all rooms in the city.

"Certainly with 74 rooms from the Quest out of action, and the Burke and Wills out of action, that's 10% of the hotel/motel stock," he said.

"That is basically 10% of the people who stayed there last year, who won't be able to, if the Quest is not available before."

NO ROOM: Toowoomba Accommodation Providers spokesman Tony Heckendorf said the city has lost 10% of its hotel/motel rooms after the Burke and Mills Hotel and Quest Apartments were closed temporarily.
NO ROOM: Toowoomba Accommodation Providers spokesman Tony Heckendorf said the city has lost 10% of its hotel/motel rooms after the Burke and Mills Hotel and Quest Apartments were closed temporarily. Tom Gillespie

The fire that destroyed Amigo's on June 13 also caused at least $4.5 million worth of damage to the award-winning apartments, with a quarter of building damaged by fire, heat and smoke.

While Quest owner FKG Group stated it would try to have the apartments ready for the carnival, which starts on September 15, operations manager Dallas Hunter said it could take months to fix it.

The massive shortfall of rooms in the city was a chance for providers in the surrounding towns to attract visitors, according to Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce CEO Jo Sheppard.

"We're not at a crisis point, but as is the case with other regions, it's an opportunity for the outlying towns like Oakey, Pittsworth and Allora to be able to pick up," she said.

"Quest are going to be operational again, but to be offline right now isn't ideal or part of their plan."

Quest and the Burke and Wills were also two of three accommodation providers in the CBD, with Toowoomba Central Apartments the only building offering four-star rooms in the centre of town.

Ms Sheppard said the situation was a reminder of Toowoomba's need for more high-quality accommodation in Toowoomba to take in both business and leisure tourism to the region.

"The growth in business travel is real, and improved connectivity from flights is increasing, and that market is looking for CBD accommodation," she said.

"Just from the feedback I've had from people at companies who were booked into the Quest, their preference would be for CBD rooms.

"That's why the Quest has done so well - prior to the fire, they were creating a strong business.

"Hopefully we'll see room for four and five star hotels in the future."

Mr Heckendorf's advice to visitors heading to the Carnival of Flowers was simple - get in early, and call the hotel directly.

"I'd certainly recommend them to ring their hotel providers directly, because they may have set aside some rooms that might not be available through the booking channels," he said.

"It's just an awareness thing, so if people are looking to come, make sure they get in early."

Topics:  carnival of flowers toowoomba

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