Call for shire planning reform, leadership in new tourism report
A PROPOSED new tourism strategy for Toodyay describes a $2.5 million Victoria Hotel upgrade currently nearing completion as a “major game changer” for the region.
Icon Tourism also recommends that the Avon River becomes a focal point for the town, indigenous cultural tourism be developed and a statue of legendary local bushranger Moondyne Joe be built.Read more
A 99-page consultant report to the Toodyay Shire Council follows months of community workshops and underpins a new three-year tourism strategy advertised for public comment on Page 21 of the digital edition of month’s Herald.
It said the refurbished Victoria Hotel – which is due to reopen later this year – would provide a catalyst for business events in the region and “will easily become an iconic attraction for Toodyay”.
The report said the Destination Perth tourist region – which includes Toodyay – attracted about 13 million local, national and international visitors a year.
To capture this market, the shire needed to become part of a local tourism organisation – such as operated in Mandurah and the Peel Region – otherwise it would have no chance of succeeding.
Local tourism organisations often operated across more than one shire and were different to local visitor centres, which mainly serviced visitors once they reached a destination or just before arrival.
Perth infrastructure developments, new direct flights from London, a boom in Chinese tourism to Australia and Tourism WA’s latest two-year action plan gave Toodyay a unique opportunity to seize the Perth tour market.
However, the report said Toodyay had several growth hurdles, including local politics, lack of leadership, lack of funding and parochialism.
The report identified “a lack of confidence in shire processes and policies” which it said “remains a strong threat to growth in amenities and services within the community”.
“All attendants at workshops reported endless petty and costly problems trying to get shire approval for innovative new developments, causing some to give up in frustration,” the report said.
A lack of local public transport, and “highly restrictive” restaurant and cafe hours were also deterrents.
Local tourism-related businesses had raised “a wide range of concerns”.
The most common was the need for more attractions in the main street, more advertising of Toodyay as a tourist destination to outside markets and concerns with “various aspects of shire policy governing building development, signage and planning decisions”.
The report said the shire should establish an advisory committee with local business and tourism operators to provide industry leadership and engage with the tourism community on a shire and regional level.
“It is time to identify key messages, and consolidate logos, slogans and taglines,” the report said.
“To put it simply, a consistent and consolidated marketing strategy is required that targets the local audience, supported by proactive public relations and communications efforts, and a strong social media campaign.
Last month’s shire council meeting voted 9-0 to advertise the draft tourism strategy for public comment and appoint a part-time tourism officer from existing shire resources.