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Tropical North Queensland farmers to get a taste for tourism


Zuleika Henderson
20 March 2009
A new initiative is under way to help Far North Queensland farmers and rural property owners investigate the opportunity to diversify into food, agricultural or nature based tourism activities.

A series of tourism field days run by the Australian Regional Tourism Research Centre (ARTRC) at Southern Cross University and funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, will provide participants with information about tourism and a preliminary assessment to help identify whether individual properties or their produce have the attributes for a successful tourism venture.

Rose Wright, manager of Industry Research and Development at Southern Cross University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, said three tourism field days were currently planned in the region.

“Tropical North Queensland has a reputation for growing fantastic food amongst some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, but the role of the region’s produce and the landscapes on the many properties in the region are often overlooked when new tourism experiences are being developed,” said Ms Wright.

“The field days will give farmers an insight into food and nature-based tourism to help them decide if they have the potential to diversify.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for farmers to find out how to value-add to what they are already producing in a way that links them with local consumers, visitors and commercial users and promotes their produce in a totally new market.”

Topics for the three field days will run as follows: Monday March 30 - food tourism and value adding produce (Atherton); Tuesday March 30 - nature-based tourism diversification (Milla Milla): and Thursday April 2 – food, farm and nature tourism (Cooktown).

“These events provide land owners and producers with a realistic picture of what is required to be successful in this highly competitive industry,” said Ms Wright.

“For these agri-tourism businesses to be viable, the owners or managers must be committed to high standards of service and business management and be ready to invest the time, resources and energy required if they desire success.”

The program will support farmers who want to further develop their ideas into a business concept after doing the initial assessment at the field day. A business facilitator will mentor them through the program to ensure they can be confident of adopting the correct processes to develop a viable business.

The program also has the support of the regional councils in Far North Queensland and is working in partnership with relevant state agencies and Advance Cairns.

For further information or to register for a workshop please contact Sue Fairley on 0417 735 724

Photo: Manager of regional industry and development at Southern Cross University, Rose Wright (high resolution image available on request)