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Luana Royle

Finch Hatton, Central Queensland (including Mackay/ Isaac/ Whitsunday)

Rainforest Scuba is the only dive tour in the world exploring a freshwater rainforest billabong. Located east of Mackay in Finch Hatton, and fed from the Finch Hatton Gorge waterfalls, Rainforest Scuba’s dive tours offer a truly unique experience. The brainchild of Luana Royle, who grew up with a fear of water, the dive tour is marketed globally via a series of agents Luana meets at international trade shows.

Hi, my name is Luana Royle, my business is called Rainforest Scuba, and I'm based in Finch Hatton in the Mackay region.

To describe my business I would say it's a world first diving in the rainforest in platypus waters and it's award winning.

I find the more you encourage and the way you speak to people makes a huge difference on how the performance comes out.

Would I swap my job for a 9 to 5 role? Absolutely not, no. No. I tell people when you're your own boss and you're running a business, you work 24 hours a day. It's a lot of work, but it's the most rewarding thing you can do. I wouldn't change it for the world.

What is the major difference that people can experience diving in the rainforest? Well, number one, diving in the rainforest. It's just a wonderful experience to see a little coloured rainbow fish and see cannelona and if you're lucky, a platypus, and heaps and heaps and heaps of turtles. I don't like using the word unique, because everybody does, but it's truly very, very different from anything else they'll ever experience in their life.

Luana expanded Rainforest Scuba from a simple dive shop to a successful tourism operation by marketing her tours outside the usual dive market. The Rainforest Scuba experience is open to everyone from certified divers, through to first-timers and families, and the marketing campaigns are specialised for each target group. Luana uses her own experiences overcoming a fear of water to relate to her visitors and provide a safe and understanding environment for learning to dive.

Implementing an online booking system has helped the business expand further, with both local and overseas visitors able to find available dates and book immediately without having to make direct contact. The system also works in partnership with wholesale, retail and online booking agents.

One of the marketing drawcards is the tour’s safety: there is nothing in the billabong which can bite or sting divers. The tour’s major attraction is spotting a platypus, but the billabong is also home to a variety of turtles, fish, rare worms, eels and prawns. The company is also fully certified and offers a range of accredited dive courses from beginners to advanced, including night dives.

Luana has also expanded into offering land-based tours, including a ‘create your own experience’ tour giving guests the opportunity to build a tour that suits their interests, budget and time frame. She’s planning to bring on an intern to help her handle recent rapid growth, thanks to hard work marketing the business and attending trade shows.

Rainforest Scuba has won numerous regional tourism awards and has featured on television shows in Australia and around the world, with crews coming from as far as Japan, Brazil and the UK to document the only rainforest dive in the world.

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