Noosa tourism looking to survive pandemic blows
In a telling survey of the local tourism sector 20 per cent of businesses surveyed by Tourism Noosa believed all or three-quarters of their turnover would decline with ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing.
Of the 122 responders to this question, 15 per cent thought 50 to 75 per cent of their business would decline.
The results showed 23 per cent thought they could take a 25 to 50 per cent hit, while 10 per cent thought their business would decline by 25 per cent.
Another 10 per cent thought there would be no impact and 22 per cent were not sure.
Overall those surveyed were satisfied with Tourism Noosa's role in guiding them through the COVID-19 challenges, with 18 per cent rating the support as "excellent", 41 per cent "good", 30 per cent "adequate" and 11 per cent "poor".
The feedback was that as restrictions ease the tourism operators wanted "strong advocacy to government", "clear robust marketing", guidance for grants and financial assistance while "marketing our region as open for business".
Overall, 65 per cent of responders said they had benefited from previous Tourism Noosa marketing campaigns while 35 per cent had not.
More than 93 per cent of Noosa's COVID-19 challenged survey participants saw the benefit of Tourism Noosa's work, a minority of members wanted the group to pick up its act.
Of those who completed Destination Noosa Stakeholder Engagement Findings 2020 survey, 21 per cent were from the accommodation sector, 14 per cent food and beverage 12 per cent tours and 11 per cent from professional services.
There were also a wide range of community and business groups sampled to help Tourism Noosa "set a clear strategic vision to take the industry forward over the next two years as we rebuild post COVID-19".
Tourism Noosa's CEO Melanie Anderson said this engagement process was "a comprehensive process involving various stakeholder meetings, focus groups and a consultation paper with Tourism Noosa members, the wider tourism community and the Noosa community".
"The findings have provided some clear themes that the Tourism Noosa board will use in developing the strategic plan which is currently being developed and we look forward to sharing this with our members and the broader Noosa community over the oncoming months," she said.
One responder found the tourism body offered: "Innovative, efficient management and leadership of Noosa as a unique, high-value destination for regional and international visitors. Thoughtful but evolving attention to sustainable tourism initiatives and natural/resident concerns."
Another urged Tourism Noosa to "get people out of Hastings St to explore the wider area. Focus more on local culture (indigenous) and the creative side of Noosa" while another
said it "could connect more with the local community".
"It seems to me there is a big disconnect with residents and with local businesses that are not tourism oriented. In the long run it ends up as a less desirable place to be for everybody, tourists included," the responder said.
Another business owner found "being kept informed about the bigger picture on Noosa is valuable" with "opportunities for collaboration, networking opportunities, showcasing our businesses etc are also great".
Another responder appreciated the "well-informed visitor centres, good marketing plan to national consumers".
And 65 per cent of survey responders thought Tourism Noosa should "focus on only attracting new events to the region if they are held in locations other than Hastings St" while 35 per cent disagreed.
HOW TO GET THE TOURISTS BACK:
With international markets unlikely to return in the near future, heavily impacting the backpacker market, how can businesses in the backpacker market adapt in the absence of international travellers?
Survey responders' statements:
• Target the younger demographic domestically'
• Target domestic market (school kids, school camps, scout groups) could all become Noosa eco warriors;
• Attract the Aussie backpackers that used to go overseas;
• Invest to improve the quality (styling, cleanliness, facilities) of backpacker accommodation to diversify away from backpackers (traditionally low-value tourist) and attract students, young professionals; and
• Domestically promote directly to universities, colleges, youth groups, etc.
What are your ideas on better managing traffic and parking issues during peak times, particularly as the "drive" market will be the first visitor market back to Noosa?
• Smaller loop buses through the Junction, Sunshine Beach, along the river and into Tewantin;
• Branded beach shuttle with trailer for surfboards from National Park to River mouth with a small charge for all-day pass;
• Hop-on hop-off services like London's red buses or Fiji's Bula buses;
• Transit lane on Council easement for electric bus/tram from parking at The J to Hastings St; and
• Make Hastings Street for pedestrians only.
How do you perceive the connection between tourism and Noosa's residents and what are your suggestions on how this relationship could work better?
• Residents need to be considered a priority when it comes to events. Break down the them-versus-us barriers that have built up in the past. Special discounts and offers for them could be a good start;
• Living in a vibrant tourism town has both its pluses and minuses. Plenty of action and opportunities, plus living in a beautiful place, but overcrowding and sharing your "home" with others is challenging;'
• The vast majority of residents have come here since Noosa became a world-class tourist destination, so therefore knew what they were buying into. However I believe it is important that tourism actually strives to maintain a balance between needs of visitors and needs of residents; and
• Mostly, the residents live here for the same reasons tourists flock here - its environment, the cafe/restaurants, outdoor activities - so residents accept high season tourism. I personally don't see how the relationship could work better.