Levy idea to lure tourists

THE idea of a tourism marketing levy was put to Airlie Beach locals last week in an attempt to lure tourists back to the area.

The user-pay levy would mean operators would increase their prices slightly and pool the funds to market the area together.

Midwood market research consultancy general manager Bill Morris said a marketing levy of just two per cent would make millions of dollars to market the area.

Mr Morris said the tax should be used in an overseas marketing campaign.

“The only way to get them (tourists) here is to promote overseas,” he said.

“You have to promote the Whitsundays in China, India etc, these are the big markets.”

Meridien managing director Russell McCart said he hoped the presentation would alert people to the seriousness of the dire tourism situation but said the focus need not be on overseas markets.

“It is a very serious situation and the people in town are feeling it daily and it needs a strong response,” he said.

“(The levy) is the only way.

“We are a small town.

“We've got to do something ourselves.

“Raise the money and spend the money on promotion.”

With marketing levies ruled out by Government when the GST was introduced, Tourism Whitsunday chief executive Peter O'Reilly said there was an “enormous amount” of things to work through.

“If it was to work, it has to be something that is incredibly well-planned and thought through,” he said.

“Administratively, it would be huge.”

But despite this, Mr O'Reilly said the idea hadn't been shelved.

“It is possible, but we would need to look very closely at how that would happen,” he said.

“A properly run marketing levy would raise something in the vicinity of between $3.5 million and $4 million and would raise occupancy in town by 20 to 25 per cent, probably more.”

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