General News

27 September, 2022

Shire enters new era for tourism

TOURISM in the Mareeba Shire is about to get a major push, with the announcement that a new body will be established to unlock the industry’s potential and a marketing plan developed to bolster visitation to the area’s tourist assets.

By Robyn Holmes

Shire enters new era for tourism - feature photo

The initiatives are being pursued as part of a collaborative partnership between Mareeba Shire Council and the town’s chamber of commerce and are focussed on boosting the economic potential of the tourism industry.

The strategy has the support of regional tourism organisation, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, with the new local tourism organisation (LTO) to be funded by the council with money it has previously spent on destination marketing activities itself.

Council had made it clear it will not be reducing other funding usually provided to other organisations.

Council has also committed to contributing $25,000 towards the LTO for destination marketing and promotion of the shire, but the budget allocation will be reviewed at the end of the 2022/2023 financial year.

The organisation is expected to evolve over time to become the prime tourism organisation supporting the shire’s tourism industry and the details of how membership will work will be discussed at an industry forum in December.

“The goal of this new arrangement is to ensure that tourism operators benefit from marketing and promotional activities that best reflect all that is on offer in our shire,” Mayor Angela Toppin said.

“Council and the Mareeba Chamber have been in discussions to find a way forward to ensure that the wonderful attributes of this shire are effectively promoted.”

Figures show that visitors are returning to the region, with the total visitor spend in the Mareeba Shire reaching $136.44 million in the 12 months ending 30 June 2022.

The data, from Spendmapp by Geografia (2022) shows the amount spent by visitors, including tourists and residents of neighbouring communities, has increased by 14 per cent since the previous financial year.

Chamber president Joe Moro said the new structure would allow local operators to tap into tourism promotional opportunities that were not otherwise available to them.

“We are very pleased to work with council to try something new to benefit our tourism industry,” he said.

“The Chamber's Tourism Taskforce was initially established to identify opportunities and challenges facing our tourism operators, and this outcome is a step in the right direction.”

Mayor Toppin said the strategy was developed in partnership with the Mareeba Chamber, and in consultation with the Mareeba Heritage Centre, Kuranda Traders Association and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.

Council would continue to deliver visitor information services at the Kuranda Visitor Information Centre and maintain the funding to the Visitor Information Centre at the Mareeba Heritage Centre.

The draft Tourism Promotion Strategy will be presented at an industry forum to be held in Mareeba in December 2022 for industry consideration and input.

Another industry forum will be held after the 12-month destination marketing plan has been implemented to review the interim LTO model and the marketing plan and to prepare a new plan for the next period, should this have the support of the industry.

The draft strategy recognises the importance of tourism to the economy of the shire, saying it was having an increasingly positive impact.

But it also reveals that local tourism operators were not able to access critical funding opportunities under the current model.

“Under the current LTO model and arrangements, operators within the Mareeba Shire are missing out on State funding for tourism promotion and Covid recovery programs which are delivered through TTNQ as the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO),” the strategy states.

“Current funding arrangements mean shire operators are not eligible to apply for these funds and neither are the shire’s destination marketing activities funded by council eligible for matched RTO funding.

“The proposed tourism promotion arrangements for the shire will met the RTO requirements, thereby opening up these potential funding opportunities for tourism promotion and operator support in the shire.” 


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