House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Gilmore Electorate: Tourism

12:51 pm

Photo of Joanna GashJoanna Gash (Gilmore, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to share with the House an exciting initiative launched by a constituent in my electorate. It has come to my attention that Darcy Moore and his family, including his daughters Sarah, who is three, and Lucy, who is six, have drawn on recent technological tools to promote a beautiful local attraction. The Kiama Coast Walk is a route etched out between Kiama Heights and Gerringong, or more specifically Loves Bay and Werri Lagoon. Mr Moore has engaged the online image-sharing service Flickr to promote the walk, putting up incredible photos from his own camera and inviting others to display theirs for all to see. I truly am so impressed with the Moore family’s initiative.

I had the privilege of walking the track when it first opened and can testify to the magnificence of the scenery. The Kiama Coast Walk is a prime example of what our local region has to offer for tourism. When you walk along this track you can be forgiven for thinking at times that you really are walking back in time. As shadow parliamentary secretary for tourism, I recognise how important grassroots local campaigns like this one can be in attracting tourism to regional areas. It just goes to show how online social media tools, such as Flickr, Facebook and even Twitter, can help everyone engage in tourism and get their views across. Mr Moore was quoted in the Kiama Independent as stating that tourism operators who are not using social media tools are missing out on the prime media of current times. I also believe this to be true, which is why I try to make time to twitter, write and post on online forums and use Facebook. I also find that it allows me to communicate with the younger generation I represent in this House.

Social media has become an almost essential tool, not only for individuals but for community groups, businesses and the entire region. In this case it allows Kiama, as a destination, to reach out both nationally and internationally, showing that the South Coast really is open for business. I encourage all other local residents’ groups and businesses to get involved and help showcase our beautiful region to the world. Of course, we all know that marketing alone will not do the job. We need something that people want and a way to cater for their needs before we can start any form of promotion. At this point I am specifically referring to Jervis Bay, a part of the South Coast that has all the right ingredients but not all the necessary infrastructure to cater for would-be tourists.

Just after Christmas, the luxury ocean liner The World paid a visit to Jervis Bay. It moored in the middle of the bay and transported the visitors by small boats to the nearby coastal village of Huskisson. It stayed for just one day. Just before Christmas day I read in the Daily Telegraph that a cruise ship wanted to visit Christmas Island, the current residency of quite a growing number of detained asylum seekers. The point is that they have the comprehensive harbour to cater for tourists that Jervis Bay does not. The Attorney-General’s website on the topic of Christmas Island says:

Christmas Island welcomes visiting yachts and provides moorings, water and bathroom facilities at Flying Fish Cove.

That translates into real cash for the local economy, yet the state government have vigorously resisted entertaining the notion of allowing a decent harbour to be built in Jervis Bay. The fact remains that tourism in Australia has been in decline and projections suggest that it will continue to do so without new initiatives.

For the sake of the regional and rural economies that rely on the tourist dollar, we need to encourage overseas visitors to go further afield. There is a huge opportunity here and, once the secret of Jervis Bay’s breathtaking beauty got out, marketing would be no problem. I call on the government to quit wasting money on campaigns that do not work, such as the failed No Leave, No Life campaign, which saw more Australians travel overseas than domestically. They need to start investing in the infrastructure that people want in rural and regional areas and use the tools they have before them to ensure the ongoing viability of the tourism industry.