by Marguerite Cuddihy
TOURISM operators in south-west Queensland are currently polishing up on their skills and knowledge as part of a renewed focus on tourism in the region.
Eight tourism operators have spent the past few months working towards a Certificate IV in Travel and Tourism with Brisbane Business and Hospitality Training.
The training is a result of a partnership between South West Regional Economic Development (South West RED), the Maranoa, Balonne, Quilpie, Murweh and Bulloo councils, as well as the Department of Education and Training and regional tourism operators.
Deputy mayor of Balonne and chair of the steering committee for tourism Fiona Gaske said South West RED recognised that tourism was a key economic driver in the Outback.
"The economic opportunities it can provide for our communities shouldn't be underestimated,” she said.
"Therefore South West RED, in conjunction with the State department, has prioritised and invested in this project so that we can realise the benefits and outcomes for tourism in the Outback.”
John Wagner, chairman of the Wagner Group, made a brief visit to the meeting, which Mrs Gaske said was inspiring.
"It was very exciting to hear John Wagner speak about Darling Downs Tourism Ltd and the opportunities that tourism operators in the south-west may have to leverage off the work he is doing in the Darling Downs,” she said.
USQ's Regional Community Development Professor Jim Cavaye will be visiting the region next week to meet the community, business owners and councillors.
"His visit will help tourism operators identify barriers, realise opportunities and add value to their business in such a way that can attract tourism,” she said.
Murweh marketing and events coordinator Monique Johnson said the training had been invaluable and timely, given the renewed interest in tourism in the region.
"We have always been a great destination and we need to make sure everyone in Australia knows that,” Ms Johnson said.
"Queensland's southern Outback is a great brand for us to continue to build and profile as the ultimate tourism destination and as with training for our core stakeholders, we then have a great vision for developing packages and direct marketing our product.”