COUNCIL Q&A: How candidates plan to boost tourism
THE future of the Southern Downs will be decided at the local government elections on March 28.
Prospective councillors don't require any formal qualifications but the Queensland Electoral Commission suggests an active interest in community issues, good communication and negotiation skills, and business or financial management skills.
In the lead-up to the mandatory elections The Daily News aims to provide daily insight into candidates' experiences, ideas, visions and priorities.
Candidates will receive a question each weekday, for which they will have 24 hours to respond, within a word limit, before the paper goes to print.
Should these councillors receive the public vote, they will have no shortage of issues with which to contend.
Fires, drought and potential flooding posed complex problems for the region over the past 12 months, and with a global pandemic looming, there are greater challenges to come.
The fifth question asked,
"If elected to council, how would you work to boost tourism on the Southern Downs?"
"There are two elements to boosting tourism on the Southern Downs. One is to get tourists here; the second is to have them want to come back. The first requires accelerated and targeted marketing; the second needs a program enhancing our towns, villages and attractions.
The first requires continued funding support to GBWT to promote tourism for the Granite Belt; and I would support a similar organisation that could be established to promote the Warwick District.
For the second I would continue to improve amenities to further enhance the tourist experience across the whole of the Southern Downs."
Mayoral candidate Joe Doepel did not provide a response to this question.
Mayoral candidate Peter Kemp did not provide a response to this question.
"I strongly support tourism; it creates jobs and gives our towns identity. We need to recognise we are not a one-size-fits-all tourism message but a collection of unique and individual offerings. I would support re empowering the industry in the region as it was when we were at the height of success, by funding the industry to the appropriate level. The tourism operators are best placed to maximise the return on investment."
BARTLEY, Ross Trevor
"I believe that there are some good organisations in place such as; Granite Belt Wine & Tourism and Southern Queensland Country Tourism, which are currently funded by Council, do an excellent job in promotion and support.
It is obvious that the tourism industry attracts significant income to this region, and therefore Council needs to strengthen existing and future relationships with tourist operators. It is about recognising unique target destinations within our region to be a major drawcard for our whole region.
Eco-tourism will certainly fit into certain areas that need to retain and protect the natural environment around them."
"I will work with all tourism groups and increase destination marketing. I would Lobby Queensland tourism for more support. I will work with farmers to establish regional growth food scheme like in Europe. Increase experience base tourism and eco-tourism. Support all the establish business. Review red tape for accommodation and review that everyone is working at the same level. Better signs. Have a plan on the place for when the gap is close or any other emergency situation. I love this region, it is unique and diverse, have so much potential, bring the future to today, and do it now. "
"Tourism benefits every resident directly or indirectly, including economic benefits for farmers. We need a renewed focus on product development, visitor services and to start marketing the region with tourism specialists implementing the specific targeted techniques that are measurable, cost effective and work.
The 4 seasons, plus the 4 key pillars: Nature/Adventure, Heritage/Culture, Events, and Wine/Food, combine to attract visitors to the entire region. It's the diversity: Waterfalls at Killarney, award-winning Granite Belt wine, sunflowers at Allora, iconic events, giant boulders at Girraween, street art, produce and restaurants, and historic sandstone buildings in Warwick that make this region so special and should be celebrated."
"To boost tourism in the Southern Downs requires effort from the council and residents combined, for the upkeep of parks and gardens (as well as private lawns); to attract tourists into our towns and surrounds. The entrances need to be appealing, so travellers will want to leave the major highways to visit our exquisite array of attractions and see what we have to offer. Council needs to support existing events as well as be open to new ideas and work with community to make these happen. More allocation of areas to accommodate vans / travellers is needed."
"Tourists come to a region for many varied reasons;
attractions, local interests, unusual or 'different' things to see and to do but,
mainly, to relax and enjoy themselves. I
would work to transform SDRC into an RV and Caravan friendly oasis with an
emphasis on the relaxing and enjoying bit.
We need to be part of the Coach Tour Industry (my old business) and
attract the intrastate, interstate and international business to the area. We have art galleries we don't promote,
festivals we don't hold and gala events that just don't see the light of
day. We need people with passion, not self-interest,
to drive our region into the future."
"Like any industry, the operators know what works and will have the best ideas. Those operators need to be asked "what can council do for you." Not have policy implemented from the top down. Work with operators to drive innovation from the bottom up."
"Supporting, and boosting where possible, tourism teams made up of Council, locals and private business while enhancing tourism partnerships beyond our region.
Promoting the natural elements that are free and accessible, wildlife reserves, bush walks, Earth friendly experiences, RV friendly parks.
Preserving tourist routes that service visitors and feature local producers, attractions, cafes, clubs and restaurants, quality accommodation, and eco-friendly amenities.
Continuing our rich tradition of unique events and festival celebrations, supported by proud locals.
Marketing campaigns showcasing local flavours, landscapes and characters.
Encouraging residents to assume roles as local ambassadors. Invite someone to visit."
"There are a number of initiatives under way as a result of the Drought and the Bushfires to boost tourism. The 'Bring an Empty Esky' slogan is gaining traction and the 'Open For Business Despite the Drought' approach is working as seen by the success of, and the crowds at the recent Apple and Grape Harvest Festival. Encouraging and supporting events and also National Parks aiming to be ready and open for Easter Camping are just a few of the ways our region can boost tourism by working together to market the amazing tourism products our region has to offer."
"I would advocate for discussions with existing tourist organisations to see what improvements or innovations they favour. I think it is good to have an overarching tourist organisation - Southern Queensland Country Tourism in our case, but I believe there is a place for strong local tourist bodies which Council should support, e.g. Granite Belt Wine Tourism. Accordingly, the formation of a discrete Warwick tourism body is worth considering. It is important that surrounding towns and villages are included in planning and I would like to gauge their opinions on how to best incorporate them and enhance their tourism opportunities."
"Overhaul the tourism strategy, who better to listen to regarding tourism than those who provide it, the best tourism destinations aren't operated by local government but are supported financially. Entrust & reallocate council funds within the tourism community. The local government roll is to provide services for visitors to the area, fully functional visitor information centres accompanied with a concise one stop shop vibrant website that highlights what we have to offer with a strong focus on eco tourism which is the way of the future, if we don't showcase our strengths & beauty we will be bypassed."
HARROLD, Amanda Joy
"I believe tourism and the Visitor Information Centres should be run by local tourism organisations. Local organisations know how to market their unique areas and who their target audiences are and know how to market destination or event based attractions. With so much competition from other regions for the tourist dollars it is important that our region is not lost and is able to attract visitors from sporting enthusiasts, bush walkers and mountain climbers to food and wine lovers. Funding that is already in the budget being spent on internal marketing can be redirected to the local organisations."
"Boosting tourism in the Southern Downs is an ongoing 4 season continuous challenge, due to fact that all other similar regions are asking the same question.
Quality and simplicity along with regional attractions like fresh products, local entertainment and opportunities for youth to be involved on a regular calendar basis. When tourists visit they like to experience the local environment and feel part of it.
Build on what is already proven as successful and be prepared to think outside the square, just like changes of the season. Good and reliable communication with availability of easy reading brochures, with local knowledge."
JENSEN, Michael Damian
"I will be advocating for a full review into the Council's management of tourism marketing strategies over the past 4 years.
It's no secret that tourism businesses in our region have been struggling in recent years. This is not solely the result of the drought and fires. Many tourism operators who I have spoken to have expressed their disappointment with the current Council strategies. A new strategy needs to occur to get Tourism 'back on track'.
Engaging and consulting widely with those at the 'coalface' is essential in developing a new and improved Tourism Marketing model for the whole region. "
JOHNSON, Gregory Glenn
Councillor candidate Greg Johnson did not provide a response to this question.
"We are blessed to live in a region that offers an overflowing basket of tourism opportunities, in what one long-term local resident described as 'paradise'.
From our sunflower paddocks, the roar of motor sports, cool granite climate, vineyards, waterfalls and places of serene wilderness, quirky festivals and historical steam travel, 'Horsepower' and People Power - we have it all.
As an elected Councillor, I will work with our diverse and unique communities, north, south, east and west, to ensure that these opportunities are showcased on a state, interstate and international level, through collaboration with local tourism operators."
"The establishment of a "local tourist organisation" for Warwick and district run by local operators to strengthen local tourism similar to Granite Belt Wine and Tourism which Council has partnered with in the marketing of Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt.
RV friendly is another while protecting established caravan parks. Also, attract other major events to the region to bring visitors in low season periods.
Council plays a major role actively promoting the industry, providing infrastructure and services to support tourism.
Southern Downs and the Granite Belt is well positioned for tourism growth being such a vital industry to the economy."
"When family and friends visit Warwick they come for the country experience but expect the city level of service, which means being able to get meals after 8pm, a safe selection of night-life venues, well-stocked shops, friendly country hospitality and up to date, accurate information on the internet. We can improve across the region working with business, for example, Warwick could run free shuttle buses from Morgan Park to CBD during the bigger events. The best way to boost tourism is to give them such an enjoyable experience that they will go home and tell everyone about it."
"We need to be on best terms with the media! Local and City newspapers, magazines, and TV. PR for the Southern Downs region can be greatly improved. Water is not an issue as far as tourism goes. Council could make a media release about that. Obtaining an RV friendly status across the district will attract thousands of dollars to local business and also the return custom. Eco tourism can also attract people to town and there are groups to assist with this development. Negotiate with the caravan parks for an understanding. They have their needs too! The Parks and the Freedom camping are two very separate groups. One does not take from another."
"Tourism in our region needs to be enhanced over the coming years. I would like to see better exposure for our smaller townships and villages promoting historical origins. For example promoting the Gold Fossicking Trail at Pratten, Leyburn and Karara. The establishment of better short stay facilities at show grounds to allow tourists to stop and enjoy the smaller townships."
"Southern Downs Regional Council in partnership with Tourism Events Queensland, Southern Queensland Country and Granite Belt Wine and Tourism promotes Tourism to our Region. It is important to give visitors a clear message about what is great about our Region and why visitors should visit. That is why this partnership is so important, so all tourism organisations can leverage off each other for that same consistent message and I see this partnership continuing to the future, to drive tourism. I would like to see a Local Tourism Organisation in the Northern part of the region to join this partnership."
"I would continue to support the financial contributions the SDRC makes to different tourism entities, to help promote and market our region and support bringing in different events to show case what a great region the Southern Downs and Granite Belt is."
"Tourism should be a major focus of Council, especially given the countless attractions and points of interest offered on the Southern Downs.
There are many aspects to consider. Aside from offering support for tourism businesses/operators, Council needs to maintain necessary infrastructure for the convenience and comfort of those visiting our region.
We certainly need to develop and maintain Council administrated facilities to a very high standard throughout the whole region.
Continuing support of the Visitor Information Centres is vital as they highlight the many destinations attractive to region visitors and assist with information to help with visitor needs."
"I will support having a Local Tourism Organisation in Warwick, similar to Granite Belt Wine Tourism. We have tried this before. They only work well if EVERY Tourism business and Accommodation provider become members.
To get it off the ground, we may make it free of charge for the first year, to get everyone on board. This is then a central place for everyone to work together throughout the entire and diverse region, and share ideas. The LTO would provide a marketing budget, as Council does with GBWT. Training on how to market your business successfully would be included.
Employ a tourism trained Manager."
"Tourism is the second pillar of industry in the Granite Belt, and the third pillar around Warwick behind agriculture and industrial/manufacturing businesses. Council's role is to support, facilitate and promote, but this must be led by the tourism industry. I would strengthen the working partnership between Council and the very successful industry body of Granite Belt Wine and Tourism (GBWT). I would propose that Council assist the tourism operators around Warwick to form an industry organisation similar to GBWT. "
"There should not be a one size fits all when it comes to tourism on the Southern Downs. Each part of our region is as diverse as our seasons and the approach that has been taken over the past four years has not worked. There needs to be a complete review of council's tourism strategy. Too many opportunities have been lost to neighbouring regions due to the failure of council to capitalise on events throughout this state, that would have exposed our region to new and vibrant visitors. Council needs to know its limitation and learn to take on board advice from those who know their industry."
"The Southern Downs & Granite Belt has faced various phases of adversity, over the past few years, which has had a huge impact on tourism, namely, Drought, Bushfire and Floods. It will take a united campaign, between Council, GBWT, Tourism operators, Businesses, Chambers of Commerce and Locals, to boost tourism numbers. Positivity plays a major part, in marketing our region as a great place to visit. We welcome visitors and we must get that message out there, whether that be by word of mouth, social media or advertising campaigns."