The weeklong Access NZ visit has planted the seeds for Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) on a number of opportunities with Tourism, Mountain Biking, Community Safety and the Bridge Street Quarry Redevelopment heading the list.
Council delegates recently joined 70 business leaders on Access NZ, an international delegation to New Zealand to explore trade opportunities for Toowoomba Region businesses.
Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said that the study tour gave valuable insights into projects that provide very real opportunities for Toowoomba Region businesses.
“The real value of this visit is in not ‘re-inventing the wheel’ and instead learning from the experience of those that have completed similar projects.
“If Council is serious about developing Mountain Biking trails, the Bridge Street Quarry and adventure tourism it is important we learn from our New Zealand counterparts who have done this all before.
“Our region already has the landscape, the climate and the location for these types of developments, but we need to understand the best way of undertaking them, ensuring they are feasible, affordable and a priority for us, Mayor Antonio said.
“Council delegates met with Whangarei (FHAH-NGAH-RAY) Quarry Gardens Trust, the world class 25 hectare community garden project created in a disused stone quarry, which has strong alignment with our own ambitions for the Bridge Street Quarry.
“A project like the Bridge Street Quarry redevelopment is too important to get wrong and mistakes in the development of such a proposal would only cost the community. This visit provided Council with the opportunity to learn from the people directly involved in creating the gardens from its inception 20 years ago.
“Council delegates learnt about the vital role of volunteers, the importance of master planning, engaging with commercial interests early and the value of getting the correct governance structures in place before proceeding with such a major revitalisation project, Mayor Antonio said.
“During this visit Council also met with adventure tourism group “Heads-Up Adventures” about the real opportunities for adventure tourism that complements our bold ambition of becoming a centre of excellence for mountain biking.
“A visit to Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, home world-class mountain biking tracks, provided an example of how our region might combine sports tourism with adventure tourism, Mayor Antonio said.
“Adventure tourism is a driving force in the economies of the area around Whangarei, Rotorua and Queenstown and private companies are actively investing in this industry.
“We met with representatives from Skyline, the company which is a major developer of adventure tourism facilities (gondola, luge, zip lines, biking) in NZ and indeed throughout the world.
“Rotorua has found a good balance in the development of both community and commercial ventures and mountain biking has become a key driver of their economy.
“Five years ago, there was one bike shop in Rotorua specialising in mountain bikes and now there are seven. The flow on effects from visitor numbers, accommodation businesses and support service providers to the mountain biking industry has been significant.
“These regions have also seen a flow on effect from creative industries that have had a positive influence on the local economies. This was particularly visible in Sister City Whanganui with the Whanganui Glass Works that has transformed a traditional industry into a new and important tourism attraction, Mayor Antonio said.
“Whanganui are also revitalising an old industrial site that has similarities to our own Toowoomba Railway Parklands. Our visit to the Whanganui Tram Shed and River Traders Markets provided some interesting insights into the potential uses of our own Railway Goods Shed.
“Our Council will take the learnings from this important international visit and build on our own Region’s bold ambitions.