Priorities for boosting tourism in Qld

Veteran ad man Don Morris AO spoke to the Property Leaders Brisbane group at the swanky Emporium South Bank hotel on Thursday night about how Queensland can boost tourism. Morris, now at Pure Projects, was part of the Mojo Advertising team that created such memorable slogans as “C’mon Aussie, c’mon” and “Slip another shrimp on the barbie.” Morris had a lot of impressive statistics in his presentation on the contribution of tourism to our economy, although his message was a little confusing. I was very pleased Morris more-or-less said tourism is about people rather than buildings. He reminded us of the brilliantly effective Paul Hogan ad from the eighties which celebrated the laid back and welcoming nature of Australians. But at the same time, he noted the Sydney Opera House was a major draw card, as was the Crawley Edge Boat Shed on the Swan River in Perth (see this article on its popularity with Instagrammers). At least the Boat Shed suggests you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money to build a tourist attraction.

A panel discussion followed Morris’s presentation. Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s new CEO Mark Olsen offered some thoughts about how Queensland can distinguish itself and boost tourism. He referred to the opportunities offered by the islands of Moreton Bay, and the roles local Indigenous people can play in tourism ventures, such as whale watching, in what is known as Quandamooka country.

Morris’s presentation and Olsen’s comments got me thinking about what measures I would suggest for stimulating Queensland tourism, which arguably should be performing a lot better than it has been. While total spending by international visitors was up nearly 9% in the twelve months to 31 March 2019, visitor numbers were marginally lower (see Pete Faulkner’s post International Visitor Survey shows TNQ continues to underperform). It appears we’re becoming increasingly reliant on international students, whose longer average stays push up average spend per visitor and hence total visitor spending (see my post from June International education boom).

While acknowledging there is some good work underway to promote Indigenous and eco-tourism, I would suggest the following measures to stimulate tourism in Queensland.

  • Use our convict history, including tales of the cruel Captain Logan and the resourceful Eliza Fraser, to help stimulate international interest in Queensland. I regularly walk past the old windmill on Wickham Terrace on my way to Roma St Parklands, and I often wonder why we don’t do more with Queensland’s oldest structure, where Captain Logan had the convicts working the treadmill back in the 1820s (check out Brisbane’s Tower Mill).
  • Remove regulations which make us look boring to international visitors—e.g. anachronistic retail trading hours regulations, which mean most supermarkets can’t stay open after 9pm Monday to Saturday or after 6pm on Sunday, and none can sell alcohol. Arguably, the lock out laws also make us look boring.
  • Reject NIMBYism. Brisbane City Council should have allowed the Mt Coot-tha zip line to proceed. Say “Yes in my backyard” instead, as Yimby Qld does.
  • Improve the walk-ability of our urban centres, particularly the fringe of Brisbane CBD, which has several spots which are uninviting and dangerous for pedestrians. Walking along Turbot St is a horrible experience, and consider how difficult it is for people to cross Wickham Terrace at the back of Central Station in peak hour traffic. It should be easy to move between the city, Spring Hill, and the Valley, but instead it can be a fraught experience for pedestrians. Luckily things are better over the other side of the river at South Bank.


The old windmill on Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill, Brisbane. Photo by Kgbo.

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14 Responses to Priorities for boosting tourism in Qld

  1. cairnseconomy says:

    ” He reminded us of the brilliantly effective Paul Hogan ad from the eighties”
    Is this correct? There is an argument of the complete opposite and that the shrimp campaign didn’t do anything in the growth markets of the time?

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Good question. I’ll look into it.

      • cairnseconomy says:

        John Richardson, former assistant general manager of the Australian Tourism Commmission:
        “Australia had a salutary lesson with the Hogan campaign in the United States in the early 1980s. That campaign aroused enormous interest in America, awareness of Australia went sky-high and was still high a decade later. And in that decade the growth in tourism from the United States to Australia was the poorest of any of our major markets by far. Almost all of the growth you referred to came from other markets, where the Hogan campaign was not shown. That campaign had nothing to do with the rapid increase of tourism to Australia in the 1980s. (I discussed the Hogan campaign in some detail in my book A History of Australian Travel and Tourism, published by Hospitality Press at the end of 1999).”

        That’s a quote I had posted from about ten years ago from another source which I don’t think any longer exists.

        P.S. I apologise could you please remove the other inappropriate comment which wasn’t meant to appear here.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks for that quote from John Richardson.

  2. Gene Tunny says:

    Did she misquote you?

  3. Peter Newey says:

    It would be really interesting if the group that is supposed to be involved in Tourist promotion in Townsville, TEL, actually did something by promoting Tourism instead of making themselves look pretty!

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks for the comment Peter.

    • cairnseconomy says:

      Peter, I think you have connected with a significant issue. At least up here we have come to see the tourism bodies as political and driven by PR spin rather than outcomes. This is also imho a consequence of the TRA survey data which is so unreliable at a regional level that it allows almost any tourism body in Queensland to claim a PR win of some kind.

  4. cairnseconomy says:

    PPS: It isn’t clear to me why the new TTNQ CEO is promoting the islands of Moreton Bay?

  5. Andrew Aschman says:

    Yes! International as well domestic tourists and residents alike expect high standards. It’s time to review the Qld Liquor and Retail Act to allow supermarkets to sell packaged liquor and open longer hours. The Harper Review has addressed these issues and the recommendations should be taken and accepted in full by the Queensland Government. Utilisation of our historical assets can be improved as suggested. We definitely need a drawcard other than a bus to Mount Cootha Lookout. A Gondola lift to the city lookout and western point lookout could be low impact alternative to attract casual visitors, hikers and mountain bike riders. Let’s modernise our economy and get Qld going to benefit local residents and ensure tourists have a unique time when visiting.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Absolutely. Thanks heaps for the comment Andrew!

    • cairnseconomy says:

      The time to throw out the Qld Liquor and Retail Act was at least a decade ago. The liquor component was a significant contributor to a recession in Cairns post GFC as assets based on regulated values were leveraged and then collapsed.

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