The Border Watch : May 2nd 2014
8 OPINION EDITORIAL NEWS today Mount Gambier’s housing market is beginning to show strong signs of recovery will be welcomed by the business and general community. Hit hard by the uncertainty of forestry jobs and the forward sale juggernaut, the housing and building market slowed considerably and confidence dived sharply. But these important sectors are now seeing a renewed confidence across the district as the forestry industry ramps up and buoyancy returns to the powerhouse sector. It is understood the sawmills and harvesting are now running at capacity, which is a positive sign for the future of the region. Record investment has also flowed into the forestry sector since the forward sale and attempts are now underway globally to attract new processing facilities to the region. With double the number of houses now being sold in Mount Gambier compared with just 12 months ago, the city’s real estate sector is certainly starting to get a spring in its step. This will be welcome news for the thousands of homeowners in the city. Realtors reveal that houses priced right are now selling quickly and some properties that have been sitting on the market for some time are now beginning to move. Moreover, it is also positive to learn the city’s building sector is also busy again and is now beginning to build spec homes. A strong and robust construction sector is pivotal to the city’s economic vitality because of the enormous spin-offs to employment. From bricklayers and carpenters to tile layers, the building sector generates thousands of jobs in the region. A bustling construction sector also drives economic benefits to the retail sector, including paint, furnishing, hardware and floor covering outlets. It is great to see the region is now dusting off the hangover of the forward sale and entering a bright new future. VISIT US ONLINE borderwatch.com.au COMMENT Mount Gambier must do better at attracting tourists ROM THE FRONT PORCH REENWOOD R GRAHAM R TOURISM is big business. ESTABLISHED 1861 Published by The Border Watch Pty Ltd ABN: 78 007 828 819 Registered office: 81 Commercial Street East, Mount Gambier, SA 5290 Postal address: Box 309, Mount Gambier, SA 5290 Telephone: 08 8724 1555; Fax: 08 8724 1551 Website: www.borderwatch.com.au SMS: 0427 135 114 Proud member of the SCOTT GROUP OF COMPANIES The Border Watch Management: General Manager: Robin Reid Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Jason Wallace Email: email@example.com Sports Editor: Rod Morris Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Manager: Dennis Jackson Email: email@example.com Pre-Press Manager: Jamie Croker Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Administration Manager: Demi Hammond Email: email@example.com The Border Watch Audited by Audit Bureau of Circulations Telephone 8724 1555, Fax 8724 1551 Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by Jason Wallace, 81 Commercial Street East, Mt Gambier The Border Watch proudly uses 100% recycled paper 538600 8 - The Border Watch, Friday, May 2, 2014 WENDY OSBORNE Mount Gambier It is a good idea for travelling families who may not be able to afford accommodation, as well as bringing tourists to our region. SHARYN SAUNDERS Mount Gambier I believe free camping is always a good thing if it brings tourists to our area. MARION BRITTON Mount Gambier I believe it is a good idea, providing that it is restricted and people don’t begin living in the area. The only trouble is, the South East, particularly Mount Gambier, is not doing enough to help itself do better. Last year, the region’s tourist expenditure amounted to more than $290m, which helped support more than 2104 full and part time jobs - 6.8pc of the total South East workforce. That has all been achieved without any serious input or government lobbying by a local tourism group. Last week, two comments highlighted the trouble tourism faces in this region. One was from Tourism Minister Leon Bignell. The previous week I criticised him for not doing his homework on the local forestry issue, but that could not be said about his work on his tourism portfolio. He is right on top of this and didn’t hold back in telling it the way it is - we are doing poorly. Having visited all South Australian tourism regions, Mr Bignell claimed the South East was the only one not represented by its own tourism body. For some years, many have been criticising governments for not doing enough for this city, when in fact this city is not doing enough for itself. STREET SWEEPER How do you feel about Grant District Council introducing free camping areas in Mount Gambier? This is supported by some disturbing statistics which show that from June 2013 local bed nights in the region are down 9pc and that driving holidays in South Australia’s regions have declined significantly in the past decade. The Great Ocean Road attracts about seven million visitors per annum, therefore Mount Gambier is a natural stopping point, but more has to be done to convince visitors to “stay another day” and spend more while seeing the region. Often they only stay overnight and travel on immediately to the Barossa, Kangaroo Island or Adelaide. The South Australian Tourism Commission has already outlined $6m for regional advertising, with Kangaroo Island, Barossa already getting a big share and the Riverland is lining up for its cut. There is nothing for Mount Gambier, mainly because government hasn’t heard a whisper from us. Because Mount Gambier does not have a peak tourism body, the Chamber of Commerce along with the Mount Gambier City Council, hospitality owners, moteliers and others are trying to get the ball rolling by establishing a peak tourism group to lobby the government. Mr Bignell was certainly impressive in his straight-to-the-point comments about what Mount Gambier needed to do, basically saying “lift your game”. Being a local, he understands the region has plenty to offer, but if the government is not getting its arm twisted to provide funds, we have only ourselves to blame. He claimed back in the 1980s and ‘90s South East tourism was a leader in the state and while that no longer applies, he showed he was not prepared to sit back and allow Mount Gambier to fall by the wayside. When the local tourism group is formed, it seems he will be waiting for the knock on the door, ready to give assistance. The other major comment of last week on this subject came from Mount Gambier mayor Steve Perryman when he said “we have many assets in Mount Gambier that haven’t reached their full tourism potential, like the Blue Lake - it’s a world class attraction, but it’s not a world class experience”. A new tourism group, along with city council, must look at developing something at the lakes area which will attract tourists, leave them spellbound and send them away talking about the beauty, excitement and fun they had there. Maybe the old chestnut of having a glass bottom tourist boat travel around the Blue Lake should be reinvestigated. For various health and safety reasons, that won’t happen, but it is the type of “outside the square” thinking required. Former councillor Barrie Hudson put up an idea for a Valley Lake cable car about 15 years ago, but it gained no support. The time has come for change. Pushing tourism expenditure from $290m to more than $500m per year is not impossible, but it will need clever thinking and some adventurous decision-making by council and other civic leaders.
May 1st 2014
May 6th 2014