The Toowoomba Regional Tourism and Events Strategy has been developed for the Toowoomba Regional Council to provide a clear direction for the development of tourism through to 2020. The state goal of doubling annual overnight visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020 is the key context for the Strategy. In taking on this challenge regionally, Southern Queensland Country (SQC) sought to grow overnight tourism from its present value of $734 million of direct visitor spending in 2013, to a ‘stretch’ target of just over $1 billion by 2020. At a local level, Toowoomba Regional Council is aiming to grow their tourism market by $41.8 million by 2020.
This past year the Toowoomba region received approximately 867,830 domestic overnight visitors, accounting for 1.94 million domestic overnight visitor nights. Overnight domestic visitation has increased by an average of 5.4% per annum since 2011 and accounts for approximately 86% of all overnight expenditure. While domestic daytrip visitors have decreased by approximately 2.6% per annum since 2011, they remain the Toowoomba region’s key market segment, accounting for approximately 63% of all visitors.
Looking forward, the development of the new Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba, the growing regional population and the growth of visitors into South East Queensland represent growth opportunities. The strategy identifies growth opportunities in two parts, with the actions required to retain market share of existing segments and leveraging these changes, and secondly the potential to stretch above that with additional investment in a number of growth market segments.
The current markets, and areas for growth of the core market include the 200km drive market, destinations with direct air services, and the business and leisure events markets. With additional investment, markets for growth include Visiting Friends and Relatives, attending or participating in sporting events, outdoor adventure enthusiasts, and business and conference visitors. This opens up the possibility of strengthening inter-state demand, as air routes are established. Internationally, New Zealand and Asia have the potential of becoming emerging markets, while efforts to leverage marketing campaigns underway by Tourism and Events Queensland and Southern Queensland Country Tourism could help draw new arrivals to the region.
- To focus on developing new experiences, and strengthening existing hero experiences, as a means of attracting new visitors and encouraging increased expenditure.
- To grow overnight visitor expenditure by $41.8 million by 2020.
- To build a strong and unified industry that works collaboratively to achieve sustainable growth.
- To continue to use tourism as a means of strengthening the region’s commitment to safeguarding and celebrating its cultural and natural heritage assets.
- To develop iconic tourism trails throughout the region
Offering iconic experiences
- Develop the culinary experience to strengthen the positioning of the Toowoomba region as a destination known for its distinct regional flavours and farm-based experiences.
- Strengthen nature-based tourism activities and develop iconic experiences associated with the region’s natural beauty, leveraging the elevation of the escarpment.
Preserve our nature and culture
- Strengthen the visitor experiences associated with the region’s history and heritage.
- Create and deliver three iconic events and a balanced portfolio of year-round events that showcase the region’s hero experience themes and celebrate unique attributes of local communities.
Deliver quality, great service and innovation
- Commit to continuously improve the quality of the experience we provide to our visitors.
- Target a balanced portfolio of markets
- Identify emerging opportunities to target new markets and develop innovative packages that will stimulate new demand.
Build strong partnerships
- Expand the knowledge base of the industry and build its capacity to deliver hero experiences.
- Build a strong understanding of the value of the tourism industry among Council, the business community and local residents.
Grow investment and access
- Continue to pursue opportunities to improve access to and within the region, and overall connectivity, including digital and mobile connectivity.
Growth markets at a glance
In addition to maintaining market share in the core markets, which could retain at least $12M in visitor expenditure from current projections, the opportunity exists to invest in six growth markets (see below) the potential return and cost of investment is estimated below:
Conference and business events (extra $1.95M)
Action and estimated investment required:
- Further invest in the Toowoomba Conference Desk and extend the partnership with venues and the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in securing conferences and events into the region - $80 000
- Support the development of a new conference facility - To be confirmed
- Contribute to an annual Southern Queensland Country Events Marketing Plan to lift the profile of destination events in the Toowoomba region - Existing budget
Sporting events (extra $1.2M)
- More efficient use of resources through an annual partnership agreement with Southern Queensland Country Tourism and alignment with campaigns of other Councils - Existing budget
- Support existing businesses and events to extend their reach into emerging markets through industry capacity building and establishment of market cluster groups - $100 000
Visiting friends and relatives (extra $28.5M)
- Encourage locals to explore the region through a targeted visiting friends and relatives campaign (including locations with air services to the region) - $300 000 to $500 000
- Stronger focus on getting events and products onto Australian Tourism Data Warehouse and then using Australian Tourism Data Warehouse for an events calendar on Council’s website - No cost
- Work with the agricultural sector and re-establish the Regional Food Network - No cost
- Leverage new products and investments (including the airport, new accommodation, new facilities) to increase publicity and distribution of product - Existing budget
- Build on the existing events (Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Hampton, Felton, Tour of Toowoomba, Jackie Howe, etc) to increase awareness and visitation - $350 000
- Encourage the drive market (including implementation of the Toowoomba Region recreational vehicle strategy) - $50 000
- Facilitate street scaping and beautification programs - To be confirmed
Asia (extra $1.67M) and New Zealand (extra $3.37M)
- Mentor businesses for emerging markets - $80 000
- Create an Ambassadors Program - $120 000
- Continue to create new event extensions around Carnival of Flowers - $50 000
- Grow the New Zealand market around signature events (including Carnival of Flowers, & Tour of Toowoomba) - $150 000
- Work towards increasing air services to the region - To be confirmed
Nature based (extra $5.1M)
- Work in partnership to identify opportunities to raise the profile of the region’s water features - Existing budget
- Develop and promote iconic trails (food, walking, mountain-bike, horse-riding) and elevate the profile of nearby National Parks - $3M - $5M
- Conduct a signage audit - $35 000
- Progress the Toowoomba Quarry Gardens - To be confirmed