THE Gold Coast Airport is now an important drop-off point for international tourists.
THE Gold Coast Airport is now an important drop-off point for international tourists.

Tweed tourism ? debate needed

IN ADVISING Tweed Shire Council that it would be seeking approval from its members not to renew its contract when it expires in June 2005, the TACTIC Board was looking to stimulate debate about the future of Tweed's tourism and the approach used to promote and develop the industry.

It is our view that significantly more resources, a clear vision on how tourism should be developed in the Tweed and a strong partnership between the industry and Tweed Shire Council are needed if tourism is to be effectively developed and promoted.

The Tweed is an emerging destination currently undergoing a significant transformation with a doubling of our accommodation product due to occur within the next two years.

The Tweed is currently a low-yield destination ranking 16th of 138 local government areas in NSW for visitation, but only 52nd for average daily spend.

The challenge is to increase visitor numbers to ensure that both existing and new properties are viable and sustainable, whilst facilitating the development of tourism experiences that provide unique and memorable experiences for visitors, that provide genuine value to the Tweed economy and which increase the spend of visitors to the Tweed.

TACTIC's work over the past three years is in line with the strategies identified in the recently released Federal Government Tourism White Paper for developing tourism in Australia.

TACTIC's approach is one of integrated destination development where promotion, product development and information provision are co-ordinated and integrated.

Four elements underpin our approach:- Tweed community's Vision and Values (identified in the Tweed Futures project in 2004), potential markets, competitive destinations and Tweed strengths.

Currently around 40 per cent of Tweed visitors arrive from south-east Queensland, a further 40 per cent from regional NSW with the remainder sourced from Sydney and southern markets. International visitor numbers are small, but potentially strong, with markets such as the highyielding North Americans and Europeans.

The aim is to identify and target groups within these areas that have a strong affinity with the experiences offered by the Tweed and to further develop those experiences in an integrated manner.

Extensive studies over the past two decades have identi- fied our strengths as: ? our environment; ? our food and agriculture; ? our arts and culture; and ? our health and lifestyle.

These provide the basis for developing unique, high-value visitor experiences that are integrated with our economy and our community. This means adding value along the entire production chain to create unique, locally produced visitor experiences such as the development of "paddock-toplate" food experiences.

The case is being mounted in some quarters for the Tweed to be marketed by Gold Coast Tourism with the Tweed Shire Council being responsible for providing visitor information services.

TACTIC believes that separation of the promotion, product development and information services will provide ad-hoc results that cannot lead to an integrated outcome. All elements of destination development should be combined within a single tourism devel- opment unit.

Outsourcing of Tweed's promotion to an external organisation is unlikely to be focused on the Tweed's unique characteristics and situation.

With the doubling of accommodation product over the next two years, we need a strong focus by all players, new and old, on developing the Tweed as its own destination providing sustainable, high value visitor experiences that benefit our industries, our economy and our community.

This requires a holistic integrated destination development approach for the benefit of all stakeholders. Equally, it needs a strong working partnership between Tweed Shire Council and the tourism industry. TACTIC endorses the mayor's call for a tourism forum to discuss the way forward and looks forward to continuing non-political debate on the issue to the benefit of all tourism stakeholders.

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