Step forward for Island tourism
DEVELOPMENT for a 20 year tourism strategy for Phillip Island will begin after it received the go ahead from Bass Coast Shire Council at the May meeting.
Council adopted the project plan and governance structure and endorsed the consultant brief for the Phillip Island Tourism Strategy 2035 Project.
A $150,000 grant was received from Regional Development Victoria’s (RDV) Putting Locals First program, along with council’s $50,000 contribution to fund the project.
The strategy was particularly endorsed by Churchill Ward Cr Phil Wright, who pushed for an alternative motion requesting CEO Paul Buckley present a report outlining potential terms of reference and structure for the establishment of a Phillip Island tourism community reference group at the June meeting.
“I think this is a really big day for Phillip Island,” Cr Wright said.
“Overall it is a fabulous direction to go but we can’t have it sitting on the bottom shelf. Phillip Island is going to be around long after all of us and we need to keep this document alive.”
Cr Wright said the strategy will set a clear framework and will provide a coordinated approach to understanding the environment in the tourism sector.
“The strategy will address balancing the tourism demand with preserving and enhancing the natural environment. If we achieve this, we have done our job,” he said.
Mayor Cr Kimberley Brown said there had already been a significant amount of work down regarding tourism on Phillip Island
“This project will review and build on this work, establishing a long term vision that can be implemented in partnership with key stakeholders,” Cr Brown said.
“Feedback provided by RDV, as a funding body, has also been incorporated into the Draft Consultant Brief.”
Cr Brown said the strategy would provide a framework for future development across a range of sectors such as accommodation, retail, attractions, transport and environmental education,
“This project will develop a 20 year strategy that establishes a vision that recognises the region’s significance as a key international and domestic tourist destination based on its unique natural environment,” Cr Brown said.
“Given the competitive nature of attracting investment and funding, a key to the future success of the region is to identify areas for infrastructure development.”
Cr Andrew Phillips said this is a great way forward for tourism in Phillip Island and will be looking for council and the State Government to fund appropriate infrastructure.
“It’s something that’s been underfunded in the last number of years and the strategy will certainly give some direction into what appropriate infrastructure will be needed to keep tourism striving in Phillip Island,” he said.
Cr Brown said council can also ensure there are opportunities to attract high end investment for tourism experience to complement the region and fill gaps in the current market.
“Seasonality is a key challenge for local businesses to maintain their workforce and grow their business and investments in the region,” she said.
“The strategy will identify opportunities to create a vibrant, year round destination for events, tourism and business, and also encourage existing and new businesses to contribute.”
Cr Brown said the strategy was identified through the Gippsland Regional Growth Plan.
“Phillip Island is the second most dependant tourism region in Australia and the most dependant in Victoria, with tourism contributing approximately $653 million to the local economy and over 5700 jobs,” the mayor said.
“Our world famous natural assets, included the Penguin Parade and world class event program, are of State importance, which means planning for the future is key.”
Council will engage with a consultant to prepare the strategy, which will be developed with key stakeholders, including Destination Phillip Island, Phillip Island Nature Parks, RDV, Phillip Island Tourism and Business Association, San Remo District Traders Association, Tourism Victoria and the community.
“It will be designed to strengthen the Phillip Island and San Remo economy through sustainable tourism in a targeted and structured way,” Cr Brown said.
Cr Wright said this could be the start for big things in South Gippsland.
“If we get this right, the same strategy could be adopted across the shire,” he said.
“I see it, if we can get Phillip Island, we can get French Island, all the way to Venus Bay and Walkerville, and all the way to Wilson’s Prom so we have a magnificent recreational area that good quality businesses could come into and set up so families can come down and spend two or three weeks riding their bikes, taking surf lessons and enjoying music, art and all other activities. This is the start of a big vision.”
Completion date for the project is June 2016.
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