Big push for more business

TOURISM Whitsundays has attempted to back up their words with actions by launching an aggressive advertising campaign in an attempt to re-invigorate the local tourism industry.

The organisation's chairman, Chris Jacobs, said in his regular column two weeks ago that some serious action needed to be taken to reverse the recent trends which have led to hard times for many local businesses.

TW has now come up with a marketing strategy that the members hope will lift the tourism dollar.

The organisation has placed a full page advertisement on page 11 of today's Whitsunday Times, aiming to summarise the state of tourism in the region and how it intends to move forward and encourage more visitors to the Whitsundays.

It points out that all though the region has experienced increased international visitation in the last 12 months, these gains have been offset by a staggering decrease in domestic visitation.

CEO Peter O'Reilly said that for several years the increased use of online distribution channels and marketing streams had seen a decrease in the investment in destination marketing within the region.

“We need to do something otherwise this trend will continue,” Mr O'Reilly said.

Included among the strategies that TW is hoping to implement are regional campaigns targeting the drive market, a travel trade road show along Australia's east coast and increased digital marketing campaigns.

Ocean Rafting owner Peter Claxton said while it was vital more tourism operators worked together, there were bigger issues that also needed addressing to improve visitor experience.

“The Whitsundays needs to ensure it is delivering what visitors expect, and that includes everything from more responsible advertising to ensuring the environmental sustainability of our region,” Mr Claxton said.

“There are always ebbs and flows throughout the year, but we can expect more ebbs in the future if people are not fully enjoying their Whitsundays experience and spreading bad word.”

Jen McGee of Nails by Jen at the Cutting Crew said the impacts were widespread.

“I've lost at least 7 really good clients recently, whose husbands have had to move out of town to get work,” Ms McGee said.

“Of our remaining clients, many are cutting back how often they can afford to have nails and hair done, and we can really tell some businesses are really struggling.”

Ray White Whitsunday Principal Mark Beale echoed the sentiments of Mr Claxton and Ms McGee.

“Airlie's Main Street in particular is seeing this vicious cycle of less tourists, meaning businesses are struggling, some are closing down, some are relocating, but we have commercial landlords who think rents should still be what they were three years ago,” Mr Beale said.

“As a result, there's over 20 vacant shops in the main street, and I suspect there are more to come.”

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