Goolwa has a message to the world… “We would love you to visit. And it is literally using the old Chinese Whisper to potentially create an exciting new market from Asia, particularly China.
While as a nation we have developed amusement halls and opened adventure trails to attract visitors, local business people who have gone overseas say the Chinese are craving for the simplicities of our every-day life that we may take for granted – like visiting a farm, picking strawberries at Mount Compass and going cockling along the spectacular Goolwa Beach.
This is merely one of the messages a few incredibly enthusiastic people representing the newly-formed committee Goolwa Tourism 5214 – GT 5214 – have received, and they’re listening.
Now they want Goolwa, as a community and especially other tourist operators, to get behind their objective to better promote this town and its surrounds to make it an even more popular destination for the benefit of all. However, the GT 5214 overseas vision is only a small part of the aims, based on the fact only 5 per cent of the 3.122 million tourists to the region in 2013-14 were from overseas.
Local operators should get involved because the return is there – tourism on the Fleurieu Pensinsula over a three-year average up to June, 2014 was $392 million. Also, next to Adelaide, the Fleurieu was ranked second in terms of visitors – the Barossa Valley, also adjacent to the metro area, was ranked 11th – second last.
According to GT 5214 coordinator Lyn Clark, looking at what tourists want is a start.
“We are throwing everything on the table for consideration, and we have to look at things through different eyes,” Lyn said.
“We also have the situation where Yaxi, which has become the first Cittaslow town in China, approached us as the first in Australia to create a sister city relationship with exchanges and all things like that.
“The Alexandrina Council needs to develop that connection, but as a community we also have a role to play. We need to embrace the opportunities this presents.
“Council is also working with the OzAsia Festival (Festival Centre September 24-October 4) organisers to bring several performances here just like we had from the Fringe Festival recently.
“As a tourist group we need to collectively find ways to do things better.”
Goolwa rebounded from the horrendous drought of 2008 which, among many things led to the formation of the Goolwa & District Community Bendigo Bank, and last year refused to accept the cutting of programs for people with a social integration difficulty because of government axing of funds and replaced it with its own Alexandrina Connect Inc.
The GT 5214 committee is now producing that same spirit to give Goolwa a much-needed tourism boost.
Sally Grundy, a tourist operator with the acclaimed Mundoo Island experience, says the objectives of GT 5214 are not about any one person, but tourism for the town and region, and especially benefits for the entire community.
“It is very much a community-based approach,” Sally said. “We need to get the tourists to come to Goolwa… we need to capture visitors as they venture this way, and when we have got them here the challenge is to present them with a very easy way of navigating all of the opportunities they can choose.
“One of the things that came up at one of our early meetings (started in February) was that we get our boom time in the summer along the south coast, but we need to be able to get a regular influx of tourists the whole year so that we have beds being filled and tables served at restaurants constantly.
“We have got so many brilliant operators here, but they are all trying to do it by themselves. If we talk to each other we will help everyone’s business. We need to change the mind set; we are not in competition. We are all in this together.”
As committee members, Lyn, her husband John, and Sally agreed that GT 5214 was trying to develop effective networking that could result in helping businesses reap the benefits from having good tourism numbers throughout the year. “This would then flow on to permanent employment rather than seasonal,” they said.
“We can feed these packages up the line so there can be marketing, working in with the appropriate levels.”
John, who is also secretary of a group led by former South Australian Premier Dean Brown focusing on tourism and boating on the Lower Lakes and Coorong, said the realities of life were that no one really had the funding resources to do everything that tourism needed.
“You have the SA Tourism Commission up there marketing to beyond the state and overseas and Fleurieu Peninsula Tourism doing its best to promote the region with one person (Miranda Lang), and there is no resource at the cold face to package a product,” John said.
“That’s the challenge… bundling our product to be marketed or sold beyond.”
Lyn said if the local operators were successful then so would be the community. “The flow-on is significant, which was made obvious during the great drought. It affected boating, fuel sales, accommodation and so it went on.
“But if you also take that multiplying effect positively, if local tourism is working well it makes the rest of the community prosper. To achieve this we need to work collaboratively.”
GT 5214 has already discussed means which to engage the community, including later inviting it to upload images and promote them through social media as part of a comprehensive competition for people of all ages. It is just one of the many ideas discussed to help make this campaign work.
It is not the first time Goolwa has tried to get tourism mobilised within the community. There were “fence sitters” and sceptics before, and there are now, but Lyn, John, Sally and other committee members believe it is time everyone rolled up their sleeves to make GT 5214 work to create new jobs and a more buoyant community.
If you would like to be involved in GT 5214 contact Lyn Clark on 8555 5801. The committee meets quarterly.