Off beaten track: Door opens for rural tourism opportunities
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council proposes to amend the planning scheme to make it easier for new rural tourism businesses to launch in the region.
Under the current planning scheme, short-term accommodation in rural-zoned areas is limited to "nature-based tourism” which means accommodation providers need to be close to an attraction, such as a waterfall or dam, where people could go sight-seeing.
However in recent times, council has identified that people craved more of an experience when embarking on a holiday, and farm stays and glamping have become increasingly popular.
As a result, the council is in the process of making it easier for a wider range of tourism ventures to be set up, particularly in rural areas.
A motion was carried 7-0 at a council meeting earlier this month for council to adopt proposed amendments to rural tourism, short-term accommodation, party houses and home-based business in the Whitsunday planning scheme 2017.
A new Rural Tourism code has been written, and if a new business enterprise meets the acceptable standards, it will only require a Code Assessment application - a much quicker and cheaper application process.
Previously, a new business enterprise would have to apply for an Impact Assessment application, which can take three to four months for council to assess, and it also has to be publicly advertised.
A Code Application can be processed within two to three weeks.
The amendments recognise the variety of tourism opportunities that may exist in rural areas, including short stays on working farms, restaurants and shops showcasing local produce, and rural recreation activities like a campdraft.
A council representative said the proposed amendments would open up opportunities in the short-term accommodation sector, and would give people the option to open a boutique.
There are pockets of rural-zoned land scattered across the region. To find out if your property falls into the rural zone, click here.