Tourism Moree will this year be looking at ways to continue to boost visitor numbers to town to inject some much-needed new dollars into the economy to support our local businesses currently struggling through the drought.
This was one of the major topics of conversation at Tourism Moree’s Annual General Meeting, held at Bank Art Museum Moree on Thursday, February 7.
It was one of the biggest AGM turn-outs they’ve had, with up to 50 people in attendance, including financial members and friends, board members, councillors, and council staff.
The chair, directors and general manager of Country and Outback Regional Tourism Network were also in attendance to make a brief presentation before holding their board meeting in Moree the following day.
Much of the Tourism Moree board remains the same, with the exception of Kylie McMillian who has come on board, replacing outgoing board member Toni Boland who has decided to step back.
Katrina Humphries remains chair, Julie Rushby is vice chair, Michelle Gobbert is secretary, and Nikki Griffiths is treasurer.
Tourism Moree CEO Tammy Elbourne said the board represents a range of different people in the community, including business owners, employees, operators, and community groups. A broad mix of businesses are also represented.
“It’s a great board, a very diverse board,” she said.
“They bring a lot of different skills, experience and expertise to the table. We’ve got a good mix of people.”
A big focus of the AGM was how tourism – Moree’s second biggest industry behind agriculture – can help to keep our local businesses afloat during this particularly difficult period of drought.
“The drought is hurting everybody,” Mrs Elbourne said.
“It’s important that we focus on being able to continue to build on those visitors so they continue to inject money into the community at a time when our locals need to take a step back.
“Tourism generates a cash flow year-round. It can help to reduce some of those impacts of seasonal effects on our local economy.”
Tourism injects more than $65 million into Moree Plains Shire each year.
Last year 170,000 visitors stayed one or more nights in Moree, which was a 23 per cent increase. International overnight visitation has also begun to trend upwards, with more than 4,000 international visitor nights recorded last year.
Over the past five years, the number of overnight visitors has increased by 37 per cent, while the average spend of visitors has increased 51 per cent.
“The challenge now is we need to continue to, at the very least, sustain those numbers, but optimally grow to ensure we continue to develop that visitor economy,” Mrs Elbourne said.
On Monday, February 18, Tourism Moree will present their draft Destination Management Plan to council.
The draft plan, which sets Tourism’s direction for the next four years, has been produced through heavy consultation with all stakeholders over the past year.
Tourism Moree has also has a number of plans in the pipeline to entice visitors to town.
One major focus is to continue working with community groups to ‘package’ events that are happening in town, to encourage visitors to eat, drink, and shop at local businesses.
After a typically quiet January/February, the calendar is full of events in March, with the ADF and National Service (formerly Nashos) reunion, the Classic Wallabies coming to town and the Moree reunion.
In April, Moree will host the National Waterski Championships and in May will be one of the biggest events on the social calendar – Moree on a Plate.
“There’s some great stuff happening [over the next few months],” Mrs Elbourne said.
“We need to work with local businesses and cafes. We need to make sure we’re open and inviting people to town.
“Our role is to assist with marketing and promotion to encourage visitors to come over that time. We’re doing visitor passports for the Nashos reunion. That’s not about encouraging businesses to offer discounts, we wouldn’t ask them to do that during this difficult time, it’s about welcoming people and inviting them into businesses. We want to promote our local businesses as much as we can.
“We fully understand our community is hurting and it is affecting everyone – farmers, small businesses, retailers.
“We want to do as much as we can to assist, particularly our small businesses in town.
“We’re very committed to the economic development and growth of the shire.”
On another positive note, despite the drought, the number of Tourism members has increased by 41 per cent.
“It’s the biggest increase we’ve ever had in 18 years,” Mrs Elboune said.