INTERNATIONAL students, a Chinese social media account and the launch of a “bucket list” online are the answers to increasing tourism to the city, according to Tourism Mount Gambier chairman Kent Comley.
Speaking at the recent Talking Tourism event at the Limestone Coast Pantry, The Barn owner highlighted the group’s plans for the 2018/19 period and goals to increase visitation to the region.
“We have had a busy year since our first annual general meeting in 2017 and are pleased to say much of our initial plan has already been achieved,” he said.
“I’m convinced we have seen a very strong growth in this region, however, we need to set new targets.”
Identifying a key target market in international students, Mr Comley said there was significant potential to attract these visitors to the city.
“There are 1.2 million foreign students studying in the country with international education now the third largest industry in Australia,” he said.
“We need to focus on the Adelaide and Melbourne market as that is an opportunity for growth.”
Using social media as a means to do so, Mr Comley said they are planning to embark on a WeChat campaign.
Classed as the Chinese Facebook, the platform dominates the market and could further enhance the experience for Chinese tourists.
Eager to make use of local knowledge, the chairman said in order to keep tourists in the region they will also work with the community to organise tours throughout the city.
“Our plan will have locals who are experts in history, building and geology of the area conducting tours, primarily walking ones around the city, lakes and up to the tower,” he said.
“We will have them properly trained and accredited and will take bookings locally.
“It has also been brought to my attention that Airbnb has a section for guides, so we could have ourselves listed internationally.
“Our plan will have the tours operational by the end of November in time for the busy summer months.”
However, it is the success of the Discover Mount Gambier website and upcoming launch of the “bucket list” that has created the most excitement for the group of business operators.
“It is not just a shopping list or itinerary planner, but will help tourists experience more of the region and digitally share this via social media,” Mr Comley said.
Proud of the achievements so far, Mr Comley said they are looking forward to taking it to another level this year.
“We are on the verge of really great things, and with the way the industry is working together, we have definitely not had our best yet.”