14 March, 2023
Locals think big on tourism
OVER 50 local tourism operators, business owners and locals passionate about the Mareeba Shire pooled their ideas and discussed challenges surrounding marketing the region at the think tank held by the Local Tourism Organisation (LTO) last week.
People from Chillagoe, Irvinebank, Kuranda and everywhere in between attended the first major initiative by the LTO since its launch last month.
The LTO is a collaboration between Mareeba Shire Council and the Mareeba Chamber of Commerce with a focus on boosting the shire’s tourism footprint.
The purpose of the think tank was to gather information and ideas from those attending and use it to develop a 12-month strategic marketing plan.
CEO of Sound Australia and organiser of Savannah in the Round, James Dein, was one of the many in attendance alongside the owner of KUR-World and a smattering of other large tourism players.
LTO chair Cr Lenore Wyatt said it was amazing to get so many like-minded people together to discuss the way forward for the shire’s tourism.
She said many people raised the lack of properly-trained tourism staff as an issue and said it may be something the LTO looks at in the future.
“There is a staffing shortage but also in trained staff so we may actually look at having a few more think tanks and focus on things like branding and exploring training for staff,” Cr Wyatt said.
“As a committee, we now must gather all the data we got and come up with a 12-month strategic marketing plan.
“We have a big job ahead of us but it was great to get everyone’s feedback and thoughts.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen ran the think tank and Cr Wyatt was incredibly thankful.
She said each of the tables at the think tank brought forward their own collective ideas about what they think the marketing plan should be.
“There is a lot of white noise out there when it comes to tourism so we need to get the one focus for the year,” Cr Wyatt said.
“What I want to see is we set out strategic marketing plan, we get in and we get it done, we collaborate with everyone but we have a report at the end detailing what we said we would do and what came out of it.”
Mr Olsen has previously stated that one of the most crucial components in making tourism successful in an area, is knowing who you want to target.
The think tank participants clearly identified three main target audiences they wanted to see more of.
The first was home improvers, couples and families from the outer urban areas and regional centres who take classic one-to-two-week holidays, are primarily self-drive and use Mareeba as a stopover for their adventures.
The second was lifestyle seekers from capital cities who are really interested in food, coffee and other experiences – they typically hire a car, stay on sealed roads and spend extended amounts of time in the area.
The third audience is almost Kuranda-specific and is culture travellers, which are people looking for something truly remarkable that cannot be seen anywhere else.
“Three quite different audiences that all have huge growth potential based on the product that is already here,” Mr Olsen said.
“A key part of the conversation was what products are needed to really elevate that, we talked about everything from perfume-making workshops to food and wine tours, food and beverage tours, overnight accommodation – all those pieces of the puzzle that will slowly build and get that extra stay out of those three markets.”
Destination marketing and experience marketing was also extensively talked about during the think tank and Mr Olsen believes it is important to promote what the Mareeba Shire has to offer, not the region itself.
“The really important point that came out from all of the workshop participants is that we certainly need a really clear brand story, you need to know why you want to spend more time in the Mareeba Shire,” he said.
“But it is not the Mareeba Shire that is the attraction, it is the attractions that are part of an experience bundle.
“Someone might want to have an experience at Palm Cove, in Kuranda, Mareeba and in Chillagoe and that is there itinerary, their journey.
“The shire boundaries and geographic locations are less important to them than putting the products and experiences in order.”