Thursday 6 May 2010
Address to: Budget Review Committee
Gold Coast City Council
By: Jim Wilson, General Manager, Connecting Southern Gold Coast Ltd
Councillors, thank you for the opportunity of briefly addressing you on the past and proposed activities of Connecting Southern Gold Coast Ltd (CSGC).
When my Chairman, Murray d’Almeida, and I addressed you on a number of occasions, about this time last year, CSGC had only just begun its operations and was still working overtime to determine projects and activities that would satisfy its KPIs for continued funding under the Management and Funding Agreement with Council.
I am pleased to report that, in the last year, we have met our KPIs.
With the assistance of Grayson Perry and Di Dixon of GCCC, our Board has developed a sound appreciation of how our Management and Funding Agreement works, and the KPIs we are expected to achieve.
Based on our regional SGC Strategic Planning exercise in late 2010, our Board is also keenly aware of what SGC businesses believe CSGC should be doing to promote economic development, investment and employment in the region.
In short, our businesses very much see us leading economic development by delivering 4 key services for the economic betterment of the SGC.
The first service is: Tourism Promotion and Marketing of the SGC.
You know of our MOUs with GCT; SCU and Tweed Tourism. We are working to enhance these, for example, we now have an Austrian student at SCU working on ways we can make the Seafood Discovery Trail become a ‘tourist destination’ in itself.
In addition to the Seafood Discovery Trail, we have created new “experiential” tourist products in Pure Green Discovery and the Walks and Lookouts of the SGC, each of which have website presences.
The Gold Coast Convention Bureau and GCT are actively assisting us with promoting these new product offerings. On top of this we have delivered 25k promotional DL brochures both in the SGC and to major tourism information centres from Brisbane to Toowoomba to Stanthorpe;
The second service is: Events and Festivals.
Our focus is on part-funding of events and festivals that underline and diversify our destinational product portfolio, thereby generating brand exposure and developing the image of the SGC, as a sub region of the wider Gold Coast.
We have successfully assisted with kick starting the Kirra SurfStock Festival and Beach Soccer at Kirra, and are working on an inaugural Kite Festival. We have made representations to the Premier of Qld and Qld Events Corporation. The Premier’s Department has replied urging us to keep working with Qld Events Corp on these and other Events and Festivals;
The third service is: Business Development Services.
This is not so much about attracting new businesses to the region- where our limited resources make this very difficult and where there are numerous paid agents and advisers working that agenda in this extraordinarily difficult environment — rather it is about working with “what we have” to make “it” better.
For example we have engaged in a number of sectoral initiatives where we are working with key local businesses and industries. Examples are Medical Tourism, Surf Industry Development Project (with GCCC), the Seafood Discovery Trail, and our MOU with BEC to provide pro bono advice to our predominantly small “s” small business sector (75%-80% of businesses employ fewer than 3 people).
Also, I am pleased to report that a direct result from our Strategic Planning exercise with IBL and SCU last year has seen the Currumbin RSL launch a new product through the Currumbin RSL College: this product is the Boomerang Smiles customer service program for small business. Paul Donovan, the Chair of GCT, will officially launch this new product later in May.
The fourth service is: Communications to our stakeholders and the World at large.
We have developed our website www.southerngoldcoast.com.au and traffic is increasing. We send out monthly newsletters to the region on what is happening in the SGC in the tourist and business sectors, plus reporting our activities. The feedback from all points has been excellent. Also we service the Seafood Discovery Trail and Pure Green Discovery Websites. Our communication strategies are focusing on emphasizing the “promise” of unique experiences to potential visitors.
From a financing perspective we have shared the costs of developing the Seafood Discovery Trail with Tweed Tourism. We have not raised any other funds from third parties, for example, selling advertising space on our website, due to difficult economic conditions restricting our ability to raise such additional revenue. We will take advantage of opportunities to raise such additional funding as and when economic circumstances change (in this respect, we understand that GCT and SPAL do not raise much if any additional revenue from advertising or sponsorship).
We need to continue our work, if we are to build enduring economic growth for the SGC.
Our plan for FY 11 is simple. It has 4 planks-they are:
- Continue to work and refine the 4 Deliverables of Tourism Promotion and Marketing; Events and Festivals; Business Development Services; and Communications by improving the quality of the engagements and the undertakings to which we allocate resources;
- Work closely with our MOU partners to achieve outcomes for the region in line with the GC City Economic Development Strategy 2020;
- Work with the ED&T Dept of Council as a strategic partner, to identify possible collaborative outcomes such as attracting new business and investment to the region;
- Continue to engage with the local business community via forums such as our Tourism Working Group. Our aim here is challenge existing attitudes and approaches and develop an enthusiastic business- community opinion about action on:
- The importance of projects listed in the Gold Coast Hinterland Tourism Operating Plan 2009-2018 such as: Rapid Transit; Surf World Gold Coast Precinct; Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Gateway; Surfing Infrastructure ; and Mount Warning Green Caldera- just to name a few;
- the “environmental presentation” of the region, as the environment in our small, and geographically and topographically-diverse region is the under pin of our regional economy and its future economic prospects; and
- development of synergies with new businesses investing in our region- businesses such as SCU, new accommodation providers, and others such as Surfing Australia.
Thank you for your support for our endeavours to date.