LOOKING UP: Businesses believe funding will enable providers to enhance tourism services.
LOOKING UP: Businesses believe funding will enable providers to enhance tourism services. Leanne Ryan

Warwick businesses thrilled by funding

WARWICK'S business community is pleased a $20,000 tourism grant has been allocated to the Southern Downs, as the region is on the cusp of major growth and development.

Southern Downs Regional Council acquired the funds from the Federal Government, through the Building Better Regions Fund, to invest in target market research.

Southern Downs councillor Rod Kelly said the research would be conducted by EarthCheck, a scientific benchmarking and advisory group.

"We're being professional about undertaking this research and obtaining this data, rather than just one person's opinion,” Cr Kelly said.

He said the research would assess the reasons for tourists visiting the region to inform marketing campaigns so ratepayer money could be spent effectively.

"It's meant to be money spent for the right reasons so when we do spend money on tourism and events, we get the right outcome,” he said.

Warwick Chamber of Commerce president Julia Keogh said the research would enable businesses to enhance tourism services.

Upskilling, professional- ising and taking advantage of the local food bowl should be focuses for businesses, Ms Keogh said.

"The research side of things will support benchmarking and then we can do continual improve- ment and use hard data to see what we need to do to expand,” she said

"You can have a fantastic idea for a program, but unless you've got some evidence to back up your application... it's difficult.”

Valerie Prencice from The Criterion Hotel said the funding indicated Warwick was a place to watch.

"We're on the cusp of a boom, I think we should be really proud,” Ms Prencice said. "The shops are moving and revamping and there's a general feeling of positivity in Warwick.

"We've had tough times, but it's a typical Australian thing we just battle through and we're getting there.”

The announcement comes after the adoption of a formal tourism strategy by the council last month.

Spring marketing was also begun in early September, aimed at showcasing the landscape and food experiences available in the Southern Downs.



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