Tourism – a new strategy for Banana Shire

I had the privilege last week of being invited to chair the Banana Shire Council’s annual Industry Summit.  The theme this year was tourism and the Council used the summit to outline to its ratepayers and residents the new direction being taken with tourism development.

Tourism is a major contribution to the Shire’s income, with many grey nomads traversing the region on their way north and west.  There are various options for stopovers and camping such as Callide Dam and it is also on the route to well-recognised attractions such as Carnarvon Gorge, Cania Gorge and Kroombit Tops.

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The Council had attracted a stellar range of speakers whose presentations can be found here.

Councils’ new direction – a rare thing in itself in a sector where new directions usually only amount to fresh branding and marketing – is to align itself with the Outback Queensland Tourism Association (OQTA), the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) for western Queensland.  This is in place of the previous alignment with Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd (GAPDL).  GAPDL itself is linked, by Tourism and Events Queensland, with the neighbouring RTOs Capricorn Enterprise and North Burnett Tourism under a common marketing banner of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Although these three RTOs do have responsibility for some inland areas, this branding tends to result in a focus on the coast.  Banana Shire has no coastal component.  On this basis, moving to OQTA recognises the closer links to western Queensland, particularly as many grey nomads – having well and truly explored the coast on previous holidays – are now discovering inland routes and the benefits of the inland regional lifestyle.

The speakers’ presentations complemented each other well and provided lots for local tourism operators and the general public to think about, including the need for some new product as well as lots of hints to help better understand the grey nomad cohort; what they want, how they think and how to engage with them.  The role of social media in this was certainly highlighted.

It will be interesting to see whether this strategic realignment yields tangible benefits.  While logical and based on data, it’s a big call and deserves to deliver.

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