Tourism black­out

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

IGOT to be a tourist last week­end. A girl­friend ar­rived from Mel­bourne along with a fully laden planeload of logo- wear­ing V8 fans, and we took in a few sights.

Go­ing up the Hill was manda­tory, but I saw it through a slightly dif­fer­ent view­point from stag­ger­ing up the goat track. In­stead, we drove to the sum­mit, did laps un­til we could score a park, be­fore join­ing the crowds tak­ing photos of the V8 track and other van­tage points.

We got back into our car and headed down, with me think­ing, “There’s not a lot there to en­hance the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence”. Make that, “There’s NOTH­ING there to en­hance the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence”.

So many peo­ple, so many op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing beg­ging.

Tired? There’s a cou­ple of benches to sit on, too low to see the view. Thirsty? There’s a tap. How about a T- shirt with, “I climbed Castle Hill’? Or a bumper sticker? Stubby hold­ers? Caps? Come on coun­cil, cre­ate some rev­enue!

Just down from the sum­mit is the cleared area of the old Panorama House site that’s been empty for close to a decade. Op­po­site is another cleared area, also empty, which isn’t sur­pris­ing when you con­sider the de­ba­cle of try­ing to get lights in­stalled on the hill. Or slides at the Rock­pool. Or a cen­tral bus ter­mi­nal. Or a con­ve­nient ferry ter­mi­nal.

How about sub­si­dis­ing a cof­fee or ice cream van on the area op­po­site the ex- Panorama House?

How about a few lit­tle ta­bles and chairs? To ease the park­ing is­sues, how about a coun­cil- run shut­tle bus tak­ing peo­ple up and back from some­where like the Strand, or the Botanic Gar­dens, ev­ery 30 min­utes or so?

There are big plans afoot for Townsville; the new wa­ter­front precinct, bars, restau­rants, the sta­dium; but now is the time to abol­ish the red tape and con­vo­luted pro­cesses re­quired to es­tab­lish tourist- friendly ameni­ties and ac­tiv­i­ties, and ac­tively en­cour­age peo­ple with in­cen­tives rather than re­stric­tions to set up scooter hire, pop- up sou­venir car­a­vans, food trucks, cof­fee carts, river tours, wa­ter­sports, and boat and snorkelling tours around Mag­netic Is­land.

All we hear about are pro­posed bars and cafes, but what about a beachy la­goon like at Bris­bane’s South­bank?

Live mu­sic would be great, but good luck with that, the re­cent city con­cert by King So­cial and 360 was can­celled due to our usual noise- pho­bic com­plainant; how long un­til the con­strict­ing liquor li­cens­ing body al­lows our city to progress?

The coun­cil needs to as­sist growth by only charg­ing a to­ken cost for tourism- re­lated per­mits, and min­imis­ing red- tape for op­er­a­tors in ar­eas not ser­viced by cafes.

Townsville En­ter­prise needs to be en­ter­pris­ing; that we still don’t have a per­ma­nent, large- scale wa­ter park is em­bar­rass­ing. Our city is a no- brainer for ac­tiv­ity- based ven­tures; our weather makes us a near- year- round propo­si­tion, yet we don’t cater to the 20- 30 some­thing trav­ellers be­tween their raft­ing and bungee ad­ven­tures other than pro­vid­ing a Strand park­ing spot so they can dry their laun­dry.

Where’s the city skate park? Where are the wa­ter slides, the live mu­sic? What do gen X and Y do for fun once they get here, catch up on sleep? We need ac­tive tourism; and lead­ers with a vi­sion. Un­til then, it’s all just a view.

DREAM­ING: Townsville is cry­ing out for a wa­ter­park and ac­tiv­i­ties to keep tourists and fam­i­lies en­ter­tained.

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