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Centre helps develop regional tourism


Brigid Veale SCU Communications Manager
2 June 2006
Byron Bay has been selected as one of 23 destinations to be included in a
nationwide research project designed to assist in the development, marketing
and management of regional tourism destinations.

The project is being run by the Australian Regional Tourism Research Centre (ARTRC), a partnership between Southern Cross University (Northern NSW) and the Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre.

The Centre is being officially launched today (June 2) by the Federal Minister for Tourism, Fran Bailey, in the Yarra Valley. The Minister is also announcing two significant projects – the Sustainable Regional Tourism Destination Project and the Farm and Country Tourism on your Property.

The ARTRC is supported by the Australian Regional Tourism Network (ARTN) and Tourism Australia. It is a dedicated research centre, based at SCU's Lismore campus, focusing on sustainable tourism and industry development in regional Australia. It has conducted more than $2 million worth of research, much of which has been focused on industry development and extension programs.

The Sustainable Regional Tourism Destination Project is a nationwide study being co-ordinated by the Deputy Director of the ARTRC, Ms Meredith Lawrence, in partnership with eight researchers from four university partners from the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC).

The three-year project will include case studies of up to 23 individual destinations covering all states and territories including places such as Byron Bay, Shark Bay in WA, Alice Springs and the Murray River.

"The Sustainable Regional Tourism Destination Project will provide government, industry and community stakeholders with practical guidance on best practice principles for the sustainable development, marketing and management of regional tourism destinations," Ms Lawrence said.

"Once the research is complete, practical tools and resources such as toolkits, best practice guidelines or manuals will be developed to assist operators, Local Government and communities to better plan and market their region as a tourism destination."

Ms Lawrence said it was the first project of this scale to be undertaken in Australia

"The case studies represent a range of regional areas and destinations located in inland, coastal and close proximity to urban areas. They also represent a mix of emerging to mature destinations," she said.

The second major project, Farm and Country Tourism on your Property (FACT), has been developed by the Sustainable Tourism CRC to assist existing rural landholders and farmers to successfully assess the viability of diversifying into agri or nature-based tourism.

Rose Wright, Extension Officer for the ARTRC, will be holding workshops in partnership with local and regional agencies throughout 2006 to introduce participating rural landholders to the tourism industry and how it works.

"This business development program will assist participants to develop their tourism concepts, introduce them to the tourism industry and assist them to research and develop their business plan to provide them with a greater chance of success and a smoother path in their transition from traditional agriculture into the new world of agri-tourism," Mrs Wright said.

Both projects are being funded through the Sustainable Tourism CRC.

"The type and scale of these projects demonstrates our commitment to providing independent, relevant and innovative research which will provide real benefits for tourism operators, organisations and their surrounding regions," Ms Lawrence said.

Photo opportunity: Meredith Lawrence, Deputy Director of the Australian Regional Tourism Research Centre, and Byron Shire Council Mayor, Cr Jan Barham, will launch the Sustainable Regional Tourism Destination Project in Byron Bay on Monday, June 5, at 10am (Byron Bay Surf Club, main beach).