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S.O.S: Save Our Stanthorpe

The usually thriving tourism Queensland hotspot is doing it tough. Crippling drought and bushfires have pushed the town to the brink, now it needs our help to get back on its feet.

But Stanthorpe has a simple message:  “We’re open for business.”

Tourism is a major driver of the town’s economy in the state's south-east, but recent events coupled with misinformation spread online have rapidly driven visitor numbers down.

There have been incorrect suggestions that the town has no running water, which local businesses say is hitting them hard.

For some hotel operators, bookings have dropped a staggering 80 per cent.

The region’s mayor, Tracy Dobie, says the simplest way to help the town is to take a trip there.

Southern Downs Regional Council mayor Tracy Dobie on a marooned jetty at the near-empty Storm King dam near Stanthorpe in regional Queensland. IMAGE: Getty Images

“If you want to make a personal donation to people affected by the bushfires or the drought, come and do that yourself by visiting with family and friends, buying a cup of coffee, staying a couple of nights in some of our beautiful accommodation businesses,” she said.

READ MORE: 'Worst Drought In Living Memory': Aussie Town Could Dry Up By Christmas

The town is usually booming during school holidays, as hotels book out with families making their getaway from the city.

Accommodation owners have said a number of places had the rest of their year’s bookings cancelled after the bushfires.

IMAGE: Joe Hill

“The town took a glancing hit from the fire, but it’s still all there. Stanthorpe’s still standing, and we need tourists to come… There’s no defeat. There’s always a solution, you never give up,” said Ray Costanzo from Golden Grove Estate Wines.

As the town rallies together to rebuild, the recovery effort is being hampered by misinformation being spread online.

Some less than helpful posts on social media have been spreading myths about people needing to take their own water, and taps and showers not turning on.

While the town’s Storm King dam is set to run out by Christmas, trucks will begin delivering water for domestic use before then.

Local resident John Hehlen (L) and water carrier Andrew Pearce (R) as potable water is pumped into Hehlen's tanks in the regional Queensland town of Stanthorpe. IMAGE: Getty Images

“You hear all the time about this ‘Day Zero’. There is no ‘Day Zero’- we started planning well over a year ago for the fact that our water supplies may run dry,” Cr Dobie said.

Perhaps best of all -- despite the shortage of water -- there’s still plenty of wine.

There’s more than forty cellar doors along the Granite Belt, and the dry conditions have amplified the quality and taste of the local drop.

Contact the author joehill@networkten.com.au