March 10th 2005
Call for research dollars
Magnetic Island businesses are soon to receive a letter calling for donations to assist a business group within the Community Development Association to fund ongoing surveys and their analysis into the Island's tourism-based economy.
The move came during the second Tourism Promotion meeting of Island business people in which, President of the Community Development Association, Lorna Hempstead provided a detailed summary of three revealing surveys into the Island's visitor opinions from 1997-98, 2002 and 2004 - the latter two confirmed by Tourism Queensland as being the first time Magnetic Island's visitor economy was properly surveyed.
The meeting, which was the second of its kind (the first being held a month ago), was held to investigate better ways to promote the Island and identify strengths and weaknesses of the Island's profile and appeal. The impetus came from a particularly difficult off-season which has led businesses to look for wider and more co-operative approaches to promoting the Island.
Last night's meeting brought the critical role of research into the spotlight and from comments and feedback it was clear that the business people who attended valued the findings highly, appreciated its fundamental importance to the successful planning of events and activities, and wanted to see it continue.
Lorna Hempstead spoke from the research findings which showed, among many other issues, that Island visitors are mostly not very high income earners with 70 percent earning under $60,000 per year; that 40 percent return to the Island for their holidays; that direct bookings with accommodation providers has increased dramatically, that experiencing the Island's natural values and enjoying its unspoilt, laid back atmosphere was a very positive attraction and that many answered that the best improvements were to "stop ugly developments" and "keep the Island as it is" (read file story here).
A group of five then volunteered to draft a letter to Island businesses for money to begin the process. The money ($50 each was suggested) would go towards the running costs which the Community Development Association incurs in basic office administration and then towards planning for future research.
Costs for surveys were the steepest when it came to data entry and analysis but Lorna Hempstead, who also holds a seat on the board of Tourism Queensland, thought that it was likely that the work could become part of an ongoing project for students at the Tourism programme at Townsville's James Cook University.
The meeting, though smaller in numbers than the first (under 30 attended) was focussed and productive and appeared to be characterised by a willingness to work together and desire to renew efforts to promote the Island's appeal based on reliable data.