OPEN ARMS: Hervey Bay Colonial Lodge owners Andre and Ronaly Els have been awarded as an
OPEN ARMS: Hervey Bay Colonial Lodge owners Andre and Ronaly Els have been awarded as an "outstanding” property for this year by Booking.com. Jessica Lamb

Hervey Bay's secrets to being in top most welcoming towns

WHEN Trevor and Carol Rumble stopped off at Hervey Bay Colonial Lodge in December 2017 for a few days on their way to Cairns, they never imagined they would still be there two months later.

The couple, who were travelling from the United Kingdom, were one of the first guests for new motel owners Andre and Ronaly Els and Mr and Mrs Rumble quickly booked another two-month trip the following year.

Now the regulars are considered family, their tale a prime example of why Hervey Bay was ranked in the top 10 Most Welcoming Places in Australia last year by Booking.com based on customer reviews.

Hervey Bay Colonial Lodge was just one of 65 winners recognised in the area for the Guest Review Awards for last year which contributed to the top 10 placing.

Townsville was the other Queensland region that featured in the top rankings for the holiday website's seventh annual awards.

Mr Els said the accolade was humbling and could be attributed to getting to know each guest's needs.

"We really want our guests to feel at home. We find out what they like to eat so we recommend the best local spots and help them with their bookings," he said.

"We pick them up from the airport and take them to look at kangaroos in our mini bus if they haven't seen them before for no extra cost.

"We both come from a tourism background and are people persons."

Part of The Tribute to the Delltones band, Mr Els said often mini concerts and barbecues were put on for guests around the pool.

"We always aim to be number one," he said.

"It's the little things like taking guests to Woolworths in the van and walking them to their doors when they arrive.

"When we first started here people would mainly only book for an overnight but we found people started extending their time here which has helped us build up our occupancy."

Fraser Coast Tourism and Events general manager Martin Simons said the awards reinforced previous survey results.

"In previous Tourism Queensland surveys Hervey Bay has stood out with a great attitude to tourism with the population generally welcoming to tourists," he said.

"Any time a property or business is recognised for excellence it is a great thing for the region.

"Three quarters of the population has a positive sentiment towards tourism because they see it as a job driver and believe it adds lifestyle and diversity to the region. This doesn't happen everywhere.

"The region is stretching out arms for tourists and they want more to come here.

"What we offer compared to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast is uncrowded leisure in a great family environment."