Trail open for business as cyclists, riders, hikers gear up
THE opportunities for new businesses to emerge following the completion of Australia's longest continuous hiking, cycling and horse riding trail are endless.
Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the completion of the final stage of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail between Toogoolawah to Moore signalled the start of a tourism boom for the region.
"We are welcoming new development and tourism businesses in our region with open arms," Cr Lehmann said.
"Of course, developments must still meet all the necessary requirements and have approvals from the relevant departments but the opportunities for new tourism businesses to establish themselves in Somerset is at an all-time high.
"There is demand, there is opportunity and there is plenty of visitation from cyclists, horse riders and hikers keen to experience this fantastic new asset."
Council estimates that there will be about 4000 more overnight visitors to the region annually because of the rail trail and that in just five years post construction, the rail trail will increase direct tourism expenditure in the region by $1.5 million per annum.
"Market demand has been estimated through an analysis of other date sources including use of other rail trails in Australia and New Zealand, traffic counters on the BVRT, market trends in cycling participation and visitor behaviour," Cr Lehmann said.
Harlin residents, Sue Hudd and Craig Eastment, recently established their tourism business, Heartland Heavy Horses, to offer horse drawn wagon tours along the rail trail.
"We decided to do it because our property backs onto the rail trail and horses have been part of my whole life," Mrs Hudd said.
"We wanted to share our love of horses with others and offer people a unique experience along the trail.
"We will be offering wagon trail rides with our team of beautiful grey Percheron geldings and Clydesdale mares and a picnic lunch."
Cr Lehmann said there were various other businesses that were in the process of establishing themselves along the trail and others that had been operating on the trail for some time.
"Our region is home to Ottaba Llamas, a business that provides guided walking tours with their llamas along the trail, we also now have businesses that hire out bikes, offer cycling shuttle bus services and much more," he said.
"The opportunities are endless in terms of accommodation development, farmstay experiences, food opportunities and more.
"I would encourage anyone thinking about establishing a business in Somerset to have a talk with one of Council's friendly planners and see what opportunities are available."