As Gold Coast tourism icon Binna Burra Lodge reopens, Dr Sarah Gardiner, the Deputy Director, Griffith Institute for Tourism, says other operators can learn a lot from their journey back from devastating bushfires.
On Tuesday 1 September, Binna Burra welcomes its first guests, almost a year to the day since fire destroyed the historic heart of the eco-tourism site within Lamington National Park.
“Binna Burra is a major drawcard for the Scenic Rim and its opening represents a significant step forward in the recovery from last year’s bushfires and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Gardiner said.
Dr Sarah Gardiner and fellow GIFT researcher Dr Debbie Cotterell’s work on a case study of the Binna Burra Lodge’s disaster recovery has provided key business insights for tourism operators affected by natural disasters.
“Tourism operators affected by disasters need to communicate their recovery efforts to minimise long-term effects on the visitor economy.
“Their reopening coincides with strong consumer demand for local experiences at the moment, so Binna Burra should attract lots of visitors over the coming months.
“It provides vital access to the walking tracks in Lamington National Park and many people are keen to visit Binna Burra and explore the national park again.”
Climate adaptation scientists Dr Johanna Nalau said Binna Burra was a stellar example of business tackling environmental challenges head on.
Nalau was recently recognised at the prestigious 2020 Young Tall Poppy Science Awards for her research, which looks at how people make decisions in order to adapt to impacts of climate change.
“Climate change impacts, such as more frequent bushfires, challenge the way we live and work,” Dr Nalau said.
“Places like Binna Burra are already thinking ahead: what kinds of plants they can plant now, how they should design buildings to stand more extreme conditions.
“All of this is very practical climate change adaptation and really requires a new mindset in how we tackle future problems in today’s context.”
With major road works sufficiently completed to allow public access into the Binna Burra side of Lamington National Park, and guests arriving into the operator’s Sky Lodges and Groom’s Cottage, Dr Gardiner said Queenslanders should embrace local holiday destinations.
“With travel restrictions and some borders closed, there is a domestic tourism boom happening at the moment for destinations in the 2-3 hours’ drive time from Brisbane and the Gold Coast so Binna Burra and the Scenic Rim should benefit from people holidaying and taking a day-trip close to home during the pandemic.
“People are keen to get outdoors and participate in nature-based activities, such as bushwalking, during the pandemic.
“It is also important that Binna Burra and the surrounding region is supported by people spending money in the businesses.
“Staying in the accommodation, buying lunch and purchasing local produce and crafts is needed to help these businesses survive and hopefully thrive during these challenging times.
Earlier this year Griffith and Binna Burra signed an MOU, cementing a strategic partnership between the university and the historic nature-based tourism provider, focusing on the development, interpretation and presentation of collaborative research and educational activities.
One of the joint initiatives currently underway is a project gathering stories of resilience, which will be transformed into interactive exhibits for key sites in the Scenic Rim impacted by the devastating 2019 bushfires.