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Speech at the opening of the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre.

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z Cr Ted Sorenson, Mayor, Hervey Bay City Council

z Diana Collins, Chair, Wide Bay Burnett Sustainable Regions Advisory


Thank you, Larry (Larry Monk, Manager, Tourism and Economic Development, Hervey Bay City Council) for your warm welcome.

It is great to be here in Hervey Bay today to officially open this terrific new visitor information centre.

It has indeed been a busy morning. I've just come from the launch of the Wide Bay Burnett Community Portal, which like this new complex, will help boost tourism to the area.

I must say it has been exciting to watch the visitor centre go up and see the concept drawings come to life.

This new facility will provide visitors and local residents with information about where to go and what to see in the Hervey Bay area.

I am sure you will agree with me that its modern design not only enhances the look of the area, it says to visitors that Hervey Bay is a confident, growing city that is looking forward to an exciting future.

This Visitor Information Centre is one component Coast and Country Tourism and Regional Development project, for which the Australian Government has provided $825,000.

The Coast and Country project is an innovative joint venture between the Hervey Bay City Council, Kingaroy Shire Council and a number of tourism stakeholders

to link tourism between the coast and the hinterland.

The project has four main components:

z This Hervey Bay regional tourism and community enterprise precinct,

including the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre, gallery and interactive display area, theatrette and seminar room; z Development of the Kingaroy tourism Precinct;

z New marketing material to promote the 'Coast and Country' brand; and

z A number of live webcams and video-conferencing technology.

I opened the Kingaroy Visitor Information Centre in September 2005. It is a fantastic building, and much more than simply an information centre. It has created a cultural hub showcasing tourism, heritage and the arts.

This Information Centre will play an equally important role attracting visitors by showcasing the unique characteristics and diversity of attractions Hervey Bay has to offer.

It is the first time that Hervey Bay tourism has had a purpose built home. Importantly, it is strategically located at the city's entrance to capture the region's important tourist drive market.

The Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast region has a booming tourist market. According to Tourism Queensland, domestic visitor numbers in 2005 exceeded 1.2 million, which is a 16% increase on the previous year. Of these, almost half of the visitors were here for holiday or leisure.

And an even more impressive statistic is that visitor nights for 2005 were up almost 50% to 3.3 million.

As I mentioned earlier, the visitor centre forms part of a regional tourism and community enterprise precinct which includes an art gallery area for local artists, a large foyer suitable for functions, a plasma screen showing webcam images, a meeting room and interactive displays.

The Visitor Centre is a $1.1 million project, with $275,000 coming from the Australian Government under the Sustainable Regions program, and the remainder being provided by the Hervey Bay City Council.

As well as promoting the Hervey Bay coast, the Centre is an integral part of the broader Coast and Country - Regional Development project that links tourist destinations within the Wide Bay Burnett region. The web cams within the Hervey Bay and Kingaroy centres feature live footage of the coast and the hinterlands to encourage visitors to the coast to see what's on offer in the hinterland, and vice versa.

The web cams are up and running at the Hervey Bay Marina, Bunya Mountains, O'Neill's Square, Kingaroy and the esplanade - and now at the Visitor Information Centre.

It is the regional partnership approach of the Hervey Bay City Council and the Kingaroy Shire Council that is the strength of this project. It is an excellent example of the regionally focussed projects funded under the Sustainable Regions program here in the Wide Bay Burnett region.

Wide Bay Burnett is one of only ten Sustainable Regions across Australia to

receive funding to deal with significant social and economic opportunities. The region was allocated up to $8 million under the program.

The Sustainable Regions funding followed the Invest Wide Bay program which provided $4m in structural adjustment funding for the region.

The program gives designated regional communities the opportunity to propose their own plans for the future and the tools to realise those plans.

The Coast and Country project is one of 27 projects in Wide Bay Burnett funded under the Sustainable Regions program. Across the country, over $75 million has been provided to 275 incredibly diverse projects. Further funding will be released as these projects meet their milestones.

After 5 years of great success, the Sustainable Regions program is now closed for new applications, but the Australian Government is keener than ever to work with local communities to support their ideas. The Regional Partnerships program has been introduced to help us to help you.

More than $360 million is available across Australia under Regional Partnerships for 2005-2009.

Regional Partnerships focuses on four areas:

z Strengthening growth and opportunities

z Improving access to services

z Supporting planning and

z Assisting communities with structural adjustment.

Since it was launched in July 2003, over 800 community-generated projects have been approved under Regional Partnerships across Australia.

The Government relies on local Area Consultative Committees' advice to help us make decision on funding of regional initiatives and projects. The ACCs provide on-the-ground support for potential applicants.

The Wide Bay Burnett Area Consultative Committee is the best place to start if you wish to access funding through Regional Partnerships.

There are no funding rounds, so organisations can apply at any time.

There are already a number of excellent Regional Partnership projects in the region.

In fact, one of these ties in beautifully with the Kingaroy part of the Coast and Country project - the Kingaroy Heritage Precinct Arena. The Government is providing $90,000 to renovate two buildings in the precinct.

Although the Sustainable Regions program winds down on 30 June this year, it will leave behind significant infrastructure that will continue to provide positive benefit for the region for many years.

Before I officially open this new facility, I would like to thank all of you who were involved in getting us here today.

In particularly, I would like to thank the excellent work of the Wide Bay Burnett

Sustainable Region Advisory Committee and particularly the Chair of the Committee, Diana Collins.

I now have great pleasure in now officially opening the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre.

Thank you. I wish you all well.

Last Updated: 13 April, 2006

Department of Transport and Regional Services

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