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Peter Glen - 12 September 2017

Peter Glen made the below comments regarding Opportunity to Increase Prosperity in Eurobodalla Shire at the Ordinary Council Meeting 12 September 2017.

Madam Mayor, Councillors and Council staff,

Thank you for the opportunity to present these ideas to you today.

An opportunity exists now for the Eurobodalla Shire to increase in prosperity, if the opportunity is taken.  Of course, if the opportunity is not taken nothing will change and the shire will continue to see local communities strive to succeed, but without reaching their potential of prosperity.  Other communities outside the shire are taking advantage of this opportunity and are starting to reap the rewards.

The opportunity is inclusive tourism, enhancement of the tourism experience to allow an increased number of less-able visitors to enjoy the Eurobodalla holiday experience.  Eurobodalla Shire is well placed to take advantage of this opportunity, with its natural unspoilt beauty, it’s easy-going lifestyle and it’s growing culture of, and existing opportunities for, inclusion in the community.

The NSW state government is promoting inclusive tourism in its ‘Destination NSW’ campaign.  In August, it supported a presentation to the local community that was attended by some Council staff as well as members of the business and community.  I take it as a good sign that the state government is spending money promoting inclusive tourism.

Let’s consider what tourism in the shire looks like at the moment.

Firstly, from Councils published data, the permanent population of the shire is around 50,000 persons, with a population growing to some 120,000 in the holiday season, particularly during the school holidays, or some 240% of the permanent population.  To get some understanding of the impact of the holiday influx, I have graphed a simple bar chart of what the population looks like across a year at Figure 1.  In a typical year, there are 12 weeks of school holidays and 40 weeks of non-school holidays.

Figure 1. Population in shire over a typical year, from January to December.

Further, tourism is the main contributor to gross regional product (GRP), contributing $370M out of a total GRP of $1,310M, or 28%.

Let’s have a look at the numbers to see what they tell us.  The number of person-weeks of the permanent population is 2,600,000 (50,000 x 52 weeks), and the number of tourist-weeks is 840,000 (120,000 – 50,000 permanent = 70,000 tourists x 12 weeks = 840,000).  On average then, a person-week of each permanent population member contributes $360 to GRP ($1,310M gross less $370M = $940M ÷ 2,600,000 = $360), while a tourist-week contributes $440 to GRP ($370M ÷ 840,000 = $440), or 22% per tourist week more than a permanent population member ($440 - $360 = $80 ÷ $360 = 22%).

One big advantage of the inclusive tourist is that they are not generally bound by school holidays for their holiday – they are free to holiday during the school term when the tourist population in the shire is lowest.  Also, the inclusive tourist party tends to be larger than a typical tourist party because of the inclusion of a carer in many cases.  So, the inclusive tourist tends to holiday in the shire’s off-peak time. I’m sure you will all have noticed that when the schools go back there is an increase of caravans on the streets as the ‘grey army’ takes to the roads.

By the way, inclusive tourists include the older generation and ‘grey army’, mothers with young children, generally in pushers, as well as those with mild to severe disabilities of various sorts.

Now, if the shire were able to attract say, an additional 5,000 tourists (10% of the permanent population) during the off-peak periods, what would happen to our GRP?  To illustrate, I have imposed the additional information on Figure 1 to create Figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Shows an increase of 5,000 in tourist numbers in off-peak seasons.

The added annual contribution to GRP in this scenario is $88M (5,000 x 40 weeks = 200,000 tourist-weeks x $440 = $88M), or an increase of 24% in the tourism contribution to GRP ($88M ÷ $370M = 24%).

As an aside, let’s consider what predicted population growth (0.85% pa from Council documents) may contribute to GRP.  Population growth is 425 persons (50,000 permanent population x 0.85% = 425) who may contribute $8M annually to GRP of the shire (425 persons x 52 weeks x $360 = $8M).

Further, consider the potential contribution to GRP of cruise ships (requiring new access facilities to the shire to be in place).  One cruise ship visit may contribute $0.3M to GRP (3,000 passengers average x 80% go ashore x 2 days (allowing a trip to Canberra during the two days) ÷7 to convert to weeks x $440 = $300,000).  The number of cruise ship visits is hard to estimate, but let’s assume one cruise ship visits every two weeks, or 20 visits in the 40 week off-peak periods.  The annual contribution to GRP of cruise ships would then be $6M, (20 visits x $0.3M per visit = $6M).

Returning to inclusive tourism, Eurobodalla shire is well situated to benefit if it takes the opportunity.  However, less-able tourists will only come to Eurobodalla if all the following conditions are met:

  1. They know of the opportunity to visit Eurobodalla at the time of making their decision to travel.
  2. They can travel on transport that meets their requirements.
  3. The accommodation for their stay meets their needs, and
  4. There are fun activities available while they are staying in Eurobodalla.

I propose to address each topic 1 through 4 in greater detail at future Council meetings.

In summary, there is an opportunity for the shire to participate in inclusive tourism.  Like any opportunity, it only exists for a short while, as other shires seeking tourist dollars will move in to take advantage of the opportunity if we don’t.

I commend participation in inclusive tourism to the Council.

Peter Glen

8 September 2017

Council's Reply

I understand that you have spoken with Elizabeth Rankin, Divisional Manager Strategy and Sustainable Growth regarding your concerns. Council acknowledges and agrees with the importance of enhancing the tourism offering in the Eurobodalla to  ensure that it is an accessible tourism destination that is welcoming and inclusive of people of all ages and abilities.

Council, together  with industry, has to continue to work in developing product and experience that is inclusive of all abilities and ensure that this product is promoted and marketed across all media channels and through our public relation and marketing campaigns.

Council has made some progress in this area as identified through the listings on the Eurobodalla tourism website via this link: http://www.eurobodalla.com.au/Where-to-Stay/accessible.

Council has also commenced a process via the tourism business web page to identify and encourage listings of products that have a genuine accessible offering. Details on how to take advantage of this listing can be found via the following link: http://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/living-in/about/tourism2/tourism-promotion/campaign-opportunities.

The objective is to create a consumer resource to promote accessible holiday itineraries, accommodation, eating out, attractions and activities.

Council and industry recognise that an evidenced based approach to destination management identifying and prioritising future opportunities to deliver on a range of actions and initiatives is needed.   A comprehensive review of the Eurobodalla Destination Management Plan 2011-2020 (the DMP) has led to a recent restructure of the tourism unit within council including the creation of a new position of a Tourism and Events Manager.

This strategic decision of council is fundamental to its shift to ensuring there is effective leadership and strategic management to manage and grow the visitor economy.

Amongst the actions and initiatives drawn from the DMP, is a requirement to work with Destination NSW’s experience sector in delivering on tourism product and experience development for the accessible tourism sector. This work will commence early in 2018 under the guidance of the new Tourism Manager and will involve a collaborative process with industry, Council’s Disability Advisory Committee, advocacy groups and the broader community.

I thank you once again for making the effort to contribute to Council meetings on such important issues.