OPINION: Are We There Yet?
LEADERS that have any form of pride, passion and vision for this region will understand the need to be parochial and proactive in promoting our identity - particularly when it comes to tourism.
The State Government's new 'Drive Tourism and Welcome Signage Guidelines' identify that towns such as Gympie, which are situated directly on a state strategic touring route, can apply for a welcome sign naming the actual town (TC1345).
Not included in the guidelines criteria but listed on a government website, tourism regions such as the Sunshine Coast (our Regional Tourism Organisation) are also entitled to apply for exactly the same welcome sign.
Herein lies the rub. We have to ask our leaders do they think it is more important to promote the Sunshine Coast or Gympie at our city's entry?
Did they even consider the message confusing for the traveler?
Do they think this will benefit our local businesses and tourism industry?
Did they take the opportunity to have input and challenge this as one of five agencies consulted in the process?
This region has always struggled with losing its identity to regional tourism branding.
During my time on the council we worked incredibly hard to maintain our own identity whilst operating within the Sunshine Coast regional tourism structure.
It took a lot of energy and commitment to ensure we were recognised as a valuable part of the regional industry and we participated with an proactive and respected presence at the table.
Our leaders should not be glossing over reports and endorsing recommendations at council meetings without at least giving some intelligent thought as to the impacts for the region they are elected to represent.
The road sign in itself is not an end-of-the-world issue but identifies some significant common denominators that appear to be lacking in council which will unfortunately have long term implications for this whole region.
Jan Watt, Imbil
Ex Councillor, Tourism Director and Chairman 2004-2012