Where is the Value in Fraser Coast Opportunities?

In the lead up to the recent Council elections there was some noise generated about the amount of money that the Council was spending on the body known as Fraser Coast Opportunities.

There were some councillors and local residents who thought the money being spent to maintain Fraser Coast Opportunities was waste while there were others who thought the exact opposite.

So what does this body do and is it delivering value for money?

A couple of years before Fraser Coast Opportunities came into being there was a large tourism expo in Sydney. Various regional tourism groups as well as tourist operators exhibited and their displays were seen by thousands of people.

While the Fraser Coast was part of a regional tourism group there was no official representation at that expo and only one local tourist operator, Atlas 4WD Hire attended.

With so little enthusiasm by anyone in this part of the world it was no wonder the Fraser Coast went through a number of lean years when tourist numbers were down. Even at peak times the ‘Vacancy’ signs were up along The Esplanade.

Since Fraser Coast Opportunities was formed this region has been represented at all the major shows and staff from Fraser Coast Opportunities have been continually meeting with media and tourism industry representatives to showcase the Fraser Coast.

Recently Fraser Coast Opportunities hosted 21 media and trade representatives that included people from the UK, Europe, Ireland, Canada, the USA, Brazil and South Africa so that they could experience all the attractions that our region can offer their tourists.

Without that exposure we would still be struggling for tourists instead of seeing increasing numbers of overseas tourists and a forest of ‘No Vacancy’ signs along The Esplanade at peak times.

Fraser Coast Opportunities has done something for this area that no other body has been able to achieve. They are focused on getting the message about this great region out to the world and they should be left to get on with the job because they are bringing valuable tourism dollars into both Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

Fraser Coast Opportunities
: FCO and Kingfisher Bay Resort Group representatives host international media on Fraser Island

So How Did You Hear of Hervey Bay?

WarningFor the past couple of weeks that’s the question one local cafe owner has been asking visitors from  Europe who have been coming into his cafe and the answer in almost every case is the same.

“We didn’t know about this place till we got off the plane in Brisbane.”

Surely that says only one thing … Hervey Bay is missing out because most people already have their trips and itinerary planned before they get here. They don’t know about us as they plan their Australian holiday so they don’t come here.

Sure, there may be some marketing for Hervey Bay at Brisbane airport but that’s way too late for most people. We need to be doing more to reach out to the European market … and it wouldn’t take much to tap into that European market.

Here in Hervey Bay we already have a rich heritage of Danish settlement … so what are we doing to attract Danish tourists? The Danes are not poor and they do travel so why not encourage them to come here to enjoy the unique beauty of Hervey Bay?

Have we ever done anything to establish a sister city relationship with any comparable city in Denmark? Have we even bothered to do something as simple as take out some advertising in Danish newspapers?

Why aren’t we encouraging the French and the Germans to come here too? We have so much to offer them and yet we’re just not interested. We’d rather try and hitch a ride on the coattails of Brisbane, and other areas that are prepared to market themselves to the world.

We don’t have to spend large amounts of money …we don’t have to employ expensive marketing firms … we can start small and there are people here in town who have the ideas that will work. Unfortunately Council doesn’t seem to want to listen to them.

It’s all well and good for Council to have great plans for the development of Hervey Bay and Maryborough but if we don’t start doing a better job of promoting what we already have those plans probably won’t develop into anything more than another cloud of hot air!

Going Going Sold!

Once again the old Anchorage Caravan Park site in Hervey Bay has changed hands and this time we might be about to see the land put to some good use.

Hervey Bay water park

The latest reports suggest that the old caravan park has been sold to the same people who own the adjoining empty block in Pulgul Street … the block that Council has approved as being suitable for a water park.

With the additional land included it seems as though Hervey Bay is about to get the biggest water park north of the Gold Coast and it may not be long before it’s up and running. It seems that the various rides will be built in Canada and shipped to Hervey Bay in pieces.

At last we might see something that will be a real tourist attraction.

Coming to Hervey Bay Next Year

Hervey Bay and the Fraser Coast are going to be alive with visitors in the first half of next year.

It all starts with a Scout Jamboree in January and then in March we have the Queensland Junior Surf Life Saving Championships. In April the Ulysses Motor Cycle Club will be in Hervey Bay for their AGM.

In May the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia will be holding a rally in Maryborough that attracts plenty of people while the Queensland Touch Football Junior State Cup and Queensland Music Teachers Conference will be held here in July.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell urged businesses to start thinking about the events and how they could tap into the visitors.

Looking for an Adrenalin Rush?

If life around Hervey Bay is a little on the quiet side and you’re looking for something to get your heart pumping then perhaps it’s time you headed out to the Homestead Wakepark to try a little wakeboarding.

wake boarding in hervey bay

If you’ve seen people wakeboarding out in the bay you will know that they rely on a boat or a jetski to tow them along but out at the Homestead Wakepark the power is supplied by a cable. It’s fully supervised and all safety gear is supplied so it’s an ideal place for beginners … and more experienced people too.

The Homestead Wakepark is located out at Susan River, From Hervey Bay you just head out on the Maryborough Road, turn left at the Susan River Homestead and travel down the road till you see the signs for the Wakepark.

wake boarding for beginners

The Wakepark re-opens for the season on Saturday and operating hours will be:

Weds to Fri 2pm till 6pm
Sat & Sun 10am till 5pm
Public holidays and school holidays 10am till 5pm.

Prices start at $20.00 and the Homestead Wakepark does cater for groups. You can call them on 0408 072 518

The Hervey Bay Tourist App

Hervey Bay tourist appIf you own a smart phone or a tablet the chances are that you’ve downloaded at least one app and probably quite a few more. These days there are apps for just about everything and now there’s even an app to help tourists have a more enjoyable stay in Hervey Bay.

The Hervey Bay Tourist App is a free download that lists a variety of accommodation from backpacker hostels to motels, apartments and resorts, directions to cafes as well as lists of upcoming events, things to do and emergency numbers.

Many of the listings in the Hervey Bay Tourist App include a scrollable map and there’s up-to-date weather forecasts for Hervey Bay too.

The app is the work of Toni and Stuart Livesey from Total Website Management who believe that every business in town should be making an effort to promote the town to tourists. The Hervey Bay Tourist App is their contribution.

The app can be downloaded HERE and will work in both Apple and Android phones.

If you have a tourist related business in Hervey Bay that you would like featured on the Hervey Bay Tourist App then contact the team at Total Website Management on 4191 4413

Are Tourist Numbers up in Hervey Bay

Fishing off the beach in Hervey Bay
If you’ve driven along the Esplanade lately you could be forgiven for thinking that tourist numbers are up in Hervey Bay compared to this time last year.

The caravan parks along the Esplanade are nearly full … there are some ‘No Vacancy’ signs appearing from time to time … and there are even some backpackers to be seen wandering around the shops at Torquay. But is all that just our imagination … maybe some wishful thinking?

Evidently not because places like the Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge and the Shelly Bay Resort are all seeing an increase on bookings compared to the last two years.

That’s really encouraging because Hervey Bay is seeing more competition than ever from other whale watching centres. And while that competition may be increasing we’ve seen some new branding and marketing campaigns launched to get the Hervey Bay name out there to the people who want to get close to the whales.

Lets hope that those marketing campaigns go beyond the whales so that tourists understand that this is a great tourist spot at any time of the year.

More Backpacker Hostels to Close?

It seems that Hervey Bay is about to feel some more pain from the rising Aussie dollar (rises that some economists suggest will go on for quite some time thanks to what economists call the “carry trade”) as stories begin to surface that two more large backpacker hostels are set to close their doors soon.

If reports that we have heard are correct one is already in receivership and the other will close simply because large numbers of backpackers aren’t coming to Hervey Bay any more and the hostel is losing money.

Hervey Bay Tourist Attraction to Close

I must admit that my memory is a little vague here but wasn’t our much vaunted Water Park – that attraction at the bottom of Main Street that draws lots of people – supposed to be a major tourist attraction for Hervey Bay?

I guess tourism isn’t that important to us any more … either that or the Water Park wasn’t such a tourist attraction after all … because according Wide Bay Water, the body that runs the Water Park, they will soon begins closing it on weekdays and only opening it on weekends.

Maybe Wide Bay Water thinks that tourists only come to Hervey Bay on weekends during the off-season.

Hervey Bay water park to close on week days

The announcement that the park is going to spend most of its time closed till next summer has already had some impact. The kiosk/cafe closed on Tuesday when the current operator decided that there was no point continuing in business at that location if the park was going to be closed.

Wide Bay Water’s decision to close the park is rather sad really. Hervey Bay needs all the open and operating tourist attractions it can get.

Update
Earlier this evening I had some discussions with Ms Maynes from Wide Bay Water and I urged them to join the conversation and post a response in the comments section. I’m pleased to say that they have done that and I urge you to read the comment section to see what the real position is going to be with the Water Park over the coming months.

In case you don’t see the comments as you read this in the general section of the Gossip this link will open the original post and the comments too.

More Bad News for Hervey Bay

And the bad news just keeps on coming for Hervey Bay this week.

An administrator has been appointed to control the affairs of the well-known tourist operator – the Fraser Island Company – and hopefully find a buyer. It’s been reported elsewhere that the Fraser Island Company owes creditors over $3 million dollars and those creditors include the Australian Tax Office and the Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Undoubtedly there will be some much smaller local creditors in the mix too and that will further damage the local economy.

The administrator is confident that a buyer will be found for the business but with so many Fraser Island tourists being lost to Rainbow Beach you would have to wonder whether that confidence will be rewarded.

The green 4WD buses of Fraser Island Company were once a common sight around town but I haven’t seen one around for some time and now that looks as though it was a sign of what was to come.