Tourism growth is the future
Last week I attended the Australian Regional Development Conference, the purpose of which is to help towns outside the State capitals grow and prosper.
Regional towns and cities comprise a third of the Australian population, some eight million people, and produce the great majority of our export income.
Regional towns are vital to our economy and also take the pressure off the big cities, where traffic, pollution and ever-spreading urban areas are destroying both the quality of life and the best agricultural land in the country.
However, for several decades now there has been a steady loss of population from the regions.
Ideas put forward at the conference included using the internet and the digital economy to overcome the tyranny of distance. Technology businesses can be established anywhere and regional centres avoid the pressures of congestion and can provide the green lifestyle epitomised by Silicon Valley. Tourism is another opportunity. Experiential tourism — getting out there into the environment for new challenging experiences which show a region’s unique characteristics, is what people now demand.
There is ample evidence of the role local government can provide in developing tourism and other new businesses. It’s resources and local knowledge are substantial and this may be a good way to get a new sector of the local economy going.
We are doing what we can in this regard at the City of Karratha and have established an economic development position within the organisation and an economic development group outside council to assist.
All ideas are welcome.