Main street the key to success
THE Monto community has been advised not to waste the strategic opportunities arising from the Rural Aid makeover.
An open forum was held at Monto Historical Complex on January 31 where residents continued a dialogued about the town’s makeover.
Following the community planning event on January 30, small town specialist Peter Kenyon wanted to stress the importance of strategy.
“You need to have a strategic outcome when it comes to this,” Mr Kenyon said. “It has to lead to things people have identified.
“You want more people in the town, more jobs, businesses busy, and people feeling that is this the greatest community to live in.”
Conversations over the hour session jumped from new paint jobs to changing the bridge, disability access and toilet blocks.
One constant theme rang out at the forum, and that was the main street, and how to attract tourists to it.
“There’s no preparation 40kms out of town to get people excited about the main street,” Mr Kenyon said.
“They haven’t got a clue what’s going in the town centre, so there’s a need for improved signage into the town.’’
Once tourists are in the main street, Mr Kenyon wanted the residents to think about what will get them out of their car, and spending money in local businesses.
“People make up their mind way before they get to Monto whether they’re going to get out to get a coffee, fill up with petrol, buy clothes, or go to the toilet.
“Those decisions are way back, so how do you influence their decision?”
Mr Kenyon said that 95 per cent of tourists don’t stop twice in a town, so attracting them directly to the main street was a top priority.
“I can’t believe the number of towns that build a toilet because they happen to have an Apex park that’s a kilometre out of town.
“They build the ultimate toilet block, and tourists then don’t stop in the town because it’s the second stop.”
The strategy of centralising things in the CBD has now been put forth to help the town of Katanning in Western Australia.
They built an all ages playground a kilometre outside of town, and because of this, a mere 1 per cent of visitors go on to stop in their CBD.
“It was a disastrous decision,’’ Mr Kenyon said.
“What they needed to do was build it in the heart of town, rather than out there.”
Another example of a decentralised tourist attraction was the “spectacular” mural art in the South Australian town of Kimba.
“What they’ve found is that everyone is pulling into there, taking photos, going to the toilet, and bypassing the town.”
This all ties back into Mr Kenyon’s driving argument: focus on the main street.
“The main street is the source of our pride.
“If the main street is looking bad, then it affects everything.”