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Tourism project is great success


Zuleika Henderson
6 August 2009
A highly successful agri-tourism project in Tropical North Queensland is now paving the way for similar projects to link agriculture, food and tourism sectors in a range of locations throughout Australia.

The Tropical North Queensland Tourism Development Program will culminate this week with the launch in Cairns of an adaptable strategy for the development of new tourism products and experiences.

As part of the Australian Government’s $4 million ‘New Destination Road Map for Tropical North Queensland’, the program was funded by the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, and delivered by Southern Cross University.

The pilot project involved State and Federal government departments, local councils, tourism operators and producers to value-add in both agriculture and tourism.

Rose Wright, manager of Industry Research and Development for the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Southern Cross University said the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Development Program aimed to broaden the range of tourism products and experiences in the region through a reinvigorated a tourism circuit including Cairns, Mission Beach, Cooktown, Mareeba and the Atherton Tablelands, where visitors can indulge in a range of tropical food and wine, see Queensland’s first fully robotic dairy and get a taste of native foods.

“We are promoting the concept of regionalism where people can buy food that comes from their local area and where visitors can confidently walk into a hotel or resort and know the food they are being served comes from the local region,” said Ms Wright.

“The local food supply chain strategy we have developed will make it easier for restaurants and chefs to order local food and for farmers to sell direct to consumers and commercial users. The plan uses existing business structures and a regional growers market framework.”

The food supply chain strategy framework resulting from the pilot project will be launched on Monday in Cairns and will include a presentation of some of the region’s producers who have participated in the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Development Program, and a keynote speech from Professor David Hughes, Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London, who will speak on global food industry issues and consumer trends.

He will be joined by representatives from Southern Cross University, the Department of Primary Industries, Advance Cairns, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Tourism Queensland, Federal Member of Parliament Jim Turnour representing Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, and Senator for Queensland the Hon Jan McLucas. Professor Hughes, Senator McLucas and other key government representatives, including a representative from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism will be visiting some of the farms and tourism enterprises in Mission Beach and in the Tablelands that have been involved in the project.

There will also be two food tourism forums held in the region over the weekend of August 8 and 9 for farmers and tourism operators to showcase the opportunities and potential benefits for new participants.

Rose Wright said about 30 growers and producers had been involved in the project in the region, leading to a whole range of new products and experiences.

“The range and diversity of products is quite astounding. It varies from biodynamic beef producers, rainforest and native food products, cheeses, hydroponic lettuce and herbs and of course tropical fruit – just to name a few.

“We have taken a very holistic approach and pulled together a range of different organisations. The model we have developed is very adaptable.”

Media are invited to attend the official launch of the Tropical North Queensland Business Development Program on Monday August 10 at 12.30pm in the Plaza Ballroom in the Shangri-La Hotel, The Pier Marina, Cairns. Professor David Hughes, Rose Wright and participants in the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Development Program will be available for interview and photos.

Media opportunities are also available in Mission Beach and in the Tablelands on Saturday August 8 and Sunday August 9 as tours and food forums get underway. Please call Zuleika Henderson, media officer Southern Cross University on 0408 644533 for information.

Photo: Rose Wright(high resolution image available on request)