Community & Business

2 August, 2023

Plan to turbocharge tourism

A RAFT of initiatives has been outlined in a new action plan aimed at turbocharging the tourism industry throughout the Mareeba Shire.

By Robyn Holmes

Plan to turbocharge tourism - feature photo

The action plan was developed after the shire’s new Local Tourism Organisation (LTO) held a thinktank in March which attracted more than 50 representatives of the tourism sector, all keen to see the industry taken to the next level.

The plan revealed the shire attracted more than 370,000 tourists in 2019 – the year before Covid changed things dramatically – including 12,000 international visitors and a total of 362,000 domestic tourists.

The action plan says the LTO should initially concentrate on visitation from North Queensland communities in a 400km radius including visiting friends and relatives. The other key areas the LTO will target is the self-drive market which is described as a “greatest opportunity” for the region, and those who attend regional events.

To that end, the action plan identifies the need to develop a comprehensive Mareeba Shire events calendar and ensure events are listed on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse website. It also advises stronger partnerships with events such as the Savannah in the Round festival, Mareeba Rodeo and Kuranda Roots Festival to leverage audiences for shire visitor experiences.

Another initiative to be developed is seasonal “Taste Mareeba” packs which be tailored to suit seasons such as “Coffee’s on us!”, “A caffeine hit from Mareeba”, avocado and mango season, and a “Winter dose of vitamin C”.  These would be delivered in person to local media outlets, Tropical Tourism North Queensland, visitor information centres, and local car hire companies, to keep Mareeba “at front of mind”.

The document also lists what the thinktank considered to be “Hero Experiences” within the shire including Kuranda “Village in the Rainforest”, Chillagoe Caves, local produce and agritourism, nature and wildlife experiences, heritage and history, and outback adventures.

LTO chair Cr Lenore Wyatt believes the shire’s tourism industry potential she is “unbounding” but says she is balancing her excitement about the new action plan with what can be achieved with limited funding available.

The organisation has a marketing budget of $30,000 for this financial year, contributed by Mareeba Shire Council ($25,000) and the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s all about collaboration and building partnerships with community organisations and other surrounding LTOs and also building capacity of our tourism operators,” she said.

“We are working on getting sponsorship at the moment which could have us funds to realise some of the actions in the plan.

“We know as a committee that we won’t be able to do everything – we recognise what we can do and what’s really a wish list thing.”

Cr Wyatt firmly believes that “tourism is everybody’s business” and that locals can help to boost visitation through participating in actions such as sharing imagery from the Mareeba Shire Tourism Facebook page to encourage their friends and relatives to visit.

“Go on and Like the page, and, if you’re an operator, join the focus group,” she said.

“We will be creating content for our social media that tells a story – it’s all about the back story for tourists now and that’s what we will set out to do,” she said.

“It’s also about leveraging off those businesses who are already doing a great job of promoting their operations - we want to build on their capacity so they can do more to promote the whole shire.

“It’s all about everyone coming on the journey and lifting each other up.”

Other actions in the new plan include creating a dedicated Mareeba Shire tourism Facebook page, develop further partnerships with Drive North Queensland, Savannah Way, Great Inland Way, Cooktown and Cape York, identifying Mareeba Shire visitor experience content opportunities, and develop a highly anticipated annual one-day famil for visitor information centre staff, hotel concierges, tour sales reps, car hire companies, TTNQ, and tourism industry staff based in Mareeba, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns and Port Douglas.


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