By Simon Haslam
An upcoming tourism symposium in August at Elements of Byron with the tourism minister will focus on the state of play in tourism, with the minister announcing a new tourism funding model.
The north coast (Newcastle to Tweed) is Australia’s third most popular tourist region after Sydney and Melbourne, with Byron Bay being the region upmost in visitors’ minds.* While overall north coast visitors only grew five per cent last year, CEO of QLD Airports Chris Mills, who is also attending, is expanding the Gold Coast airport and indications are that numbers will increase.
Day-trippers now account for about 30 per cent of tourist revenue, and the number of interstate travellers to NSW, mostly from QLD, grew a surprising 20 per cent last year. Tourism is a key economic driver in Byron, with food-related business (including restaurants that benefit from QLD day-trippers) following close behind.
Build a wall and make QLD pay
To ensure Byron tourism is sustainable, protects nature and benefits residents, Byron Council has consistently eschewed the Trump solution (build a wall and make QLD pay!), instead seeking infrastructure funding to cope with tourists, and working with Destination Byron to ensure our marketing attracts the ‘right’ sort of tourists.
Elements of Byron’s marketing manager David Jones is an experienced international hotelier and says that Byron operators have a similar ethos of providing guests with a place to reconnect with themselves and nature.
He will share Elements’ successful marketing strategies, feedback and insights at the symposium, with a focus on how to put theory into practice in order to help other Byron regional tourism operators market themselves effectively to the changing visitor demographic.
Visitors seek reconnection
‘Visitors to our region are more environmentally engaged, higher yielding and, importantly, are seeking what I’d call a “reconnection” to something lost in the cities,’ says Mr Jones.
‘I accepted this job because I love the uniqueness of Byron. Elements of Byron have joined Destination Byron because, as one of the largest national marketers, our message, along with organisations such as The Farm and Harvest, is amongst the most recognised by intending visitors. Destination Byron’s aim is to help other Byron operators to embrace the changing visitor demographic, rather than changing Byron.’
While Mr Jones would not be drawn on whether the asphalt of Byron’s Main Beach carpark was a key regional drawcard, he did say that town planning was important to shaping the visitor experience, as well as pointing to the impending sale of the Beach Hotel, the redevelopment of which in 1990 by Cornell is credited as putting Byron on the tourist map, as potentially playing a key role in the way the town is perceived.
Bookings for the tourism symposium can be made at www.trybooking.com/LTKF . For further details on the Tourism Symposium contact Rene Weller at Destination Byron. Ph 0421 911 911 or email [email protected]
(*source: Tourism Research Australia 12 months to March 2016)