Mar­ket­ing money com­ing our way

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Sharon Smallwood sharon.smallwood@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

CY­CLONE Deb­bie wreaked havoc on a size­able por­tion of the east Aus­tralian coast but there was one place that en­dured the full wrath of a cat­e­gory four storm – and that was the Whit­sun­days.

This is the mes­sage Whit­sun­day Mayor An­drew Will­cox and Tourism Whit­sun­days chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Turner have taken to the Queens­land and Com­mon­wealth gov­ern­ments with re­spect to the slice of avail­able fund­ing the re­gion should re­ceive.

With $10 mil­lion of com­bined fed­eral and state money on the ta­ble to re­ju­ve­nate Queens­land tourism in the cy­clone’s wake, these two Whit­sun­day ad­vo­cates have been fight­ing for the re­gion to have its fair share.

“We’ve fore­cast that we’ll lose $235 mil­lion in tourism over the next three months – and that’s con­ser­va­tive, based on three months worth of visi­ta­tion and tours,” Mr Turner said.

“These are sig­nif­i­cant num­bers. We’re not mak­ing this up. Look at the radar, at the map when (the cy­clone) came in.

“It ac­tu­ally hit a place called the Whit­sun­days. It didn’t hit a place called Rock­hamp­ton or the Gold Coast. The big red dot was on us.”

Cr Will­cox said the Whit­sun­days needed the money to re­build and get “back on track”.

“And when min­is­ters (Kate) Jones and (Steven) Ciobo were here at the Port of Air­lie to an­nounce the $10 mil­lion fund­ing, we said straight away then, ‘We’re the ones that have been im­pacted by the cy­clone’ – and we’ve been consistent with that mes­sage right the way through.”

Of the $10 mil­lion avail­able, $7 mil­lion is for in­fra­struc­ture projects to drive visi­ta­tion, $2 mil­lion is for mar­ket­ing and $1 mil­lion for famils and pub­lic re­la­tions.

Mr Turner said he and the mayor had been on the phone, in cars and on planes to and from Bris­bane and “in their ear” con­stantly about how much the Whit­sun­days could ex­pect.

And al­ready this has yielded re­sults.

On Fri­day, a cam­paign was an­nounced sup­ported by Vir­gin Aus­tralia and In­fin­ity Hol­i­days of­fer­ing dis­counted air­fares de­pen­dent on a min­i­mum of four nights ac­com­mo­da­tion.

While the ar­eas in­cluded are the Whit­sun­days, Gold Coast and far-north Queens­land, Min­is­ter for Tourism Kate Jones said there would be an ex­clu­sive pro­mo­tion of the Whit­sun­days dur­ing the month of June.

Mr Turner said start­ing with the ‘Wel­come Back’ PR ac­ti­va­tion on White­haven Beach last Wed­nes­day, con­tin­u­ing into this Fri­day’s Chan­nel 7 Sun­rise broad­cast from Air­lie Beach, Bowen and Hamil­ton Is­land, and flow­ing into a raft of mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, “the ac­tiv­ity is around mak­ing peo­ple re­alise the

Whit­sun­days is still a gen­uine hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion”.

The re­gion is also set to ap­pear on Chan­nel 7’s Queens­land Week­ender pro­gram, in ad­di­tion to print ad­ver­tis­ing in Bris­bane, Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and re­gional Queens­land, as well as paid TV cov­er­age backed up with so­cial media.

Mar­ket­ing cam­paigns are also planned with in­dus­try part­ners in­clud­ing Tig­erair and Jet­star.

Mean­while, Mr Turner said a work­ing group to look at in­fra­struc­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties funded from the $7 mil­lion pool had al­ready been es­tab­lished, with Cr Will­cox as chair.

He said projects al­ready on the ta­ble prior to the cy­clone in­cluded a cir­cuit walk­ing track at White­haven Beach, on-wa­ter and camp­ing ac­tiv­i­ties at the Peter Faust Dam, agri­tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties in Bowen, and the po­ten­tial for a ca­ble car at Air­lie Beach.

And if these things come off, it won’t be by ac­ci­dent, he said.

“If there hadn’t been such strong ad­vo­cacy over such a long pe­riod and with all the gov­ern­ment stake­hold­ers, this money could have ended up on the Gold Coast.”

Cr Will­cox said ne­go­ti­a­tions, par­tic­u­larly with the State Gov­ern­ment, had been helped by its pre-ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship with the coun­cil.

“When I be­came mayor, I said to ev­ery­body that I was go­ing to build re­la­tion­ships in Ge­orge Street and Can­berra, just to make sure it was known that ‘hey, we are the Whit­sun­days, we’ve got a new team, we’re open for busi­ness and we want the place to go ahead’,” he said.

“And now we’ve fos­tered that and they’ve given us very good sup­port.”

Mr Turner was equally full of praise for the co-op­er­a­tion and sup­port of­fered to the re­gion in its great­est time of need.

“When we’ve needed de­ci­sion-mak­ers, they’ve made sure they were here in an in­stant,” he said.

WEL­COME BACK: Last week’s photo shoot on White­haven Beach was the first of a long line of mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives for the Whit­sun­days. PHOTO: PHILL GOR­DON / RIPTIDE CRE­ATIVE

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