Drive into tourism in the Central Highlands
UNLOCKING its tourism potential could be key to a resurgence in the Central Highlands' economy with thousands more visitors expected to pour into the Central Highlands by 2020.
A marketing strategy released by the Central Highlands council has targeted an extra 53,000 visitors in the next five years, contributing about $87 million locally.
Mayor Peter Maguire said it was about every visitor having a remarkable experience which they would share with travellers and the masses through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
"There's a slice of $787 million by 2020 to be had from overnight visitor expenditure in what they call the 'drive' market throughout the Capricorn region," he said.
"The drive market includes families holidaying up to 400 km from home locally, event visitors and the longhaulers that come from interstate.
"Then we've identified the niche markets such as the fishers and campers, and the international visitors passing through the Capricorn area."
The Strategy sets out a five-year trajectory for marketing and promotion of the region as a tourism destination, with a focus on partnerships with the regional tourism body, Capricorn Enterprise and Tourism and Events Queensland.
"We're going to do this by working with business, the community, surrounding regions and the state government to grow our share of the adventure drive market to the Sandstone Experience Cluster-basically Carnarvon Gorge and its neighbouring attractions," Cr Maguire said.
"That doesn't mean to say the Sapphire Gemfields area misses out; quite the contrary. The fossicking, outdoor adventure, history, events and outback culture of this area feature prominently in our plans."
Cr Maguire said local residents also played a vital role in promoting the region.
"I wonder how many permanent residents in the region have actually had a fossicking experience or visited our major attractions," he said.
"We should take our visiting family and friends on tour for a start."
Central Highlands Development Council tourism officer Peter Grigg said on top of driving people to the region, much work had been done to encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more.
He said the influx of people to the Central Highlands during events such as Gemfest - held over the weekend - was testament to the "product that we have".
"We have an area steeped in fantastic history, indigenous and pastoral and coal," he said.
"We have product that people want to buy, they are experiences that people want - to feel the story."
The Strategy will be made available on the Central Highlands Regional Council website.