The price of accommodation in Longreach, which in some places is among the most expensive in the state, is for civic leaders and residents who need to use the town as a service center.
During the Easter school vacation period, prices ranged from $289 per night for a standard queen room in four motels ranging from 3 to 3.5 stars, to $249 and $345 for heritage-themed boutique accommodations. and $450 for a glamping option with breakfast included.
Cabins at RV parks were listed at $165 a night or sold out.
By comparison, similar motel rooms in Winton during the same period cost between $145 and $170 a night.
In Rome, where the Easter in the Country festival was taking place, most accommodations were sold out, but one 4-star motel in town advertised a king room for $250 while a queen room across the road was available for $179.
Outside of holiday periods, accommodation in Rome is advertised on Booking.com from $98 for a $190 cabin in a 4-star motel.
While prices at some Longreach motels were $30 to $40 cheaper the week after the holiday ended, prices for some standard accommodations remain close to $300 a night.
It is understood that a company owns 70% of the available housing in the hinterland city.
People from other cities who need to spend the night to see specialist doctors have contacted the Queensland country life about the costs involved, and people who run field days locally have been trapped with budget blowouts for the same reason.
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Longreach Regional Council Mayor Tony Rayner said people from out of town had told him they were choosing to stay in Winton or Barcaldine because of the price.
“The Council is concerned that this will damage Longreach’s reputation, but if market forces are at work and landlords are getting 80-90 per cent occupancy, it’s a difficult argument to pursue,” a- he declared.
He said a meeting with some landlords revealed that many motels in Longreach dated back to the 1980s and needed major renovations, including replacing bathrooms and flooring as well as painting.
“For some motels, this is the first upgrade they’ve had since construction, and construction and supply costs are more expensive than in the Southeast,” he said.
“All of these aspects contribute to higher rates, which is a prospect I hadn’t considered and one I understand.
“It’s about trying to hit the middle ground of what people are willing to pay without damaging our reputation.
“Owners we spoke with have different views on what is a reasonable price to pay.
“At the end of the day, the high cost of accommodation is a concern, but there’s not much the council can do about it, when the market dictates the price.”
Local tour operator Alan Smith said he believed the rates showed Longreach needed more accommodation.
“The demand is definitely up, but I think we’re overestimating ourselves because of that,” he said.
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