OUTLOOK: The Maranoa Regional Council is developing a new strategy that promotes its existing, and emerging attractions.
OUTLOOK: The Maranoa Regional Council is developing a new strategy that promotes its existing, and emerging attractions. Contributed

How one region is developing its new tourism brand

TRAVELLING across the Tasman, Ed Sims was on a mission to learn from the Land of the Long White Cloud and how it went from being two lonely islands to a global tourism powerhouse.

As Economic and Community Development manager for the Maranoa Regional Council, which oversees cultural and sporting portfolios, grant applications and funding arrangements, Mr Sims is across every element of the region's growth strategies.

And where better to turn to than New Zealand and its 100% Pure campaign which for almost two decades has transformed the country's profile in an award-winning and successful way.

It uniquely promotes New Zealand as both a destination and experience, plays to the country's strengths in agriculture and innovation while paying homage to its traditional owners and heritage.

"Over the past two years, we've been redeveloping our strategies for both tourism and agriculture value-adding, and development of our industry," Mr Sims said.

"Agriculture is our mainstay in the Maranoa and always has been, always will be.

"The resource sector looks after itself (and) tourism is the major opportunity for us.

"We haven't done it well."

Each Maranoa Regional Council town is set for a marketing overhaul in a sort of hub and spoke arrangement in the region.

While Roma will continue to be the region's "capital" or main centre, its surrounding towns will feed off it, drawing visitors in for different experiences unique to them and the region.

Mr Sims was inspired by the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's Access New Zealand trade mission which included a conference in Auckland in June.

"At the conference what we heard from a whole bunch of speakers was branding - finding something unique that you can sustain," he said.

"We're doing the same things in the Maranoa with the strengths of the hub and spoke tourism arrangement where you attracted tourists or visitors to the major centre and equip visitor information centres and major businesses with what they need."

If all goes to plan, it will mean visitors to Cobb & Co Changing Station Museum and an Aboriginal Interpretive Shelter at Surat, tourists to the Heritage Complex and Railway Station at Wallumbilla, and tours of the infamous Kenniff Courthouse and Arrest Creek Monuments at Mitchell or understanding of the coal seam gas sector and its operations at the Big Rig at Roma.

Each offers an experience at its own destination, Mr Sims said.

"We are going through a re-branding exercise," Mr Sims said.

Simultaneously, the council will also be trying to boost the region's agricultural production with a particular focus on reinvigorating the sheep industry, possibly emulating the success of New Zealand's dairy farm co-operative.

Fonterra is renowned for its 10,500 dairy farming members and owners which have the collective buying and production power to drive the industry and keep it viable, sustainable and productive.

In the Maranoa region once known for its sheep and shearing industry, the business model could deliver huge benefits to the beleaguered sector.

Wild dog exclusion fencing, he said, could see the wool industry return to the region, bringing with it shearing gangs and, ultimately, the revival of a bygone era.

"We need to capitalise on what we have," Mr Sims said.

Plans are due to be lodged before the council by the end of the year with the strategy developed in consultation with the towns and community.

Visit mymaranoa.org.au.