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Local councils unite to boost tourism


Zuleika Henderson
30 January 2009
Local government representatives from across the Tweed and Northern Rivers region will attend a course this weekend aimed at helping councils work together to promote regional tourism.

The Local Government Master Class, which will be run by Associate Professor Dianne Dredge of Southern Cross University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management on February 1 and 2, will be attended by representatives from Tweed, Ballina, Richmond Valley, Kyogle and Lismore councils.

Professor Dredge said interest in the Master Class was a sign that local councils were taking tourism seriously in the current economic climate.

“With a collaborative approach to tourism planning across councils, the tourism industry in this region can defy the economic downturn,” said Professor Dredge.

“Research shows that sustainable, competitive destinations generally have local governments that engage in tourism planning in innovative and strategic ways.

“The participating local councils should be acknowledged for their forward thinking in recognising this, and engaging an academic institution to help them collaborate and form a shared approach to tourism planning.”

An industry survey of Northern Rivers tourism organisations and providers on their views on local government performance has been conducted in the weeks leading up to the Master Class to gather feedback for consideration by council representatives.

Peak local government group, the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW (LGSA), has already requested a presentation on the benefits of the Local Government Master Class at the upcoming annual LGSA Tourism Conference in Kiama in March, and there is strong interest from other parts of NSW and Australia for the Master Class.

Professor Dredge, who has more than 20 years experience as a tourism planner in Australia and internationally, said councils had an important role to play in regional tourism.

“Local governments need to understand the nature of tourism and how council activities impact upon and influence the tourism industry in that area,” she said.

“It could mean doing the things councils do a little better, like dealing more effectively with development applications, or managing assets like signage, parks and gardens to make sure they are all tourism friendly.

“Councils are increasingly involved in tourism as a means of creating and maintaining prosperous, vibrant and diverse communities, and the Master Class aims to help them work together to achieve this.”

Photo: Associate Professor Dianne Dredge