Rail trail pop­u­lar­ity prompts big study Vis­i­tors con­tinue to flock to track

Gatton Star - - NEWS - Nathan Greaves Nathan.greaves@gat­ton­star.com.au

A RISE in the num­ber of Bris­bane Val­ley Rail Trail users has prompted Som­er­set Re­gional Coun­cil to in­ves­ti­gate just how the pop­u­lar trail is be­ing used.

The coun­cil plans to part­ner with the Univer­sity of Queens­land Busi­ness School to un­der­take a sur­vey of rail trail users.

The re­search pro­gram will be over­seen by a com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing mem­bers of Som­er­set Re­gional Coun­cil, the Depart­ment of Main Roads, the Bris­bane Val­ley Rail Trail Users As­so­ci­a­tion, and from the Bris­bane Val­ley Rail Trail Am­bas­sadors.

The goal of the pro­gram is to pro­vide data to help in­flu­ence in­vest­ment sur­round­ing the trail, iden­tify ar­eas for im­prove­ment, and cre­ate more eco­nomic and tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I thor­oughly en­dorse this,” Coun­cil­lor Bob Whal­ley said.

“It’s im­per­a­tive that we have an in­de­pen­dent body to su­per­vise the rail trail.”

The study in­tends to find out who is us­ing the rail trail, where they are com­ing from, how long or far they are us­ing it for, why they choose to use it, and what op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­prove­ment they be­lieve might ex­ist.

The sur­vey data will be read­ily avail­able to any­one who in­quires, with the coun­cil in­tend­ing to use it to help with ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion. The cost of the pro­gram will be split 50/50 be­tween the Depart­ment of Main Roads and the coun­cil, which will con­trib­ute $15,000.

“The peo­ple who use the rail trail bring a lot to our area,” Cr Whal­ley said.

“We can use this data for a tar­geted mar­ket­ing cam­paign to keep these peo­ple here longer.”

The rail trail con­tin­ues to be a ma­jor eco­nomic and tourism driver for the en­tire Som­er­set Re­gion.

The post-event re­port for this year’s Rail Trail Fun Run showed a 73 per cent in­crease in regis­tra­tions com­pared with 2018.

In to­tal, there were 539 re­turn­ing com­peti­tors and 429 new par­tic­i­pants.

The coun­cil is mak­ing con­sid­er­a­tions to fur­ther en­hance the event for fu­ture years, in­clud­ing ex­panded ameni­ties, in­creased sig­nage and more drinks along the track for run­ners and rid­ers.

There are also plans to in­tro­duce dis­counts and pro­mo­tions to en­cour­age more users, and re-al­lo­cate the bud­get to give a greater fo­cus to pro­mot­ing the event on­line.

“These ideas have been dis­cussed at length, and I be­lieve these changes are for the bet­ter­ment of the event,” Cr Whal­ley said.

There is also talk of chang­ing the name from the Bris­bane Val­ley Rail Trail Fun Run or Ride to some­thing sig­nif­i­cantly shorter, such as Som­er­set Rail Trail Clas­sic.

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