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The Federal Agriculture Minister has called for Australians to “get off their arses and get out there” to support farmers and graziers in regional and rural communities.
David Littleproud made the tongue-in-cheek comment while announcing additional drought assistance measures in Canberra.
Mr Littleproud said he wants people to visit remote communities to help generate an alternative income for areas suffering from years of drought.
“It’s not just the Government’s responsibility to help these drought-affected communities, it’s each and every one of us,” he said.
The chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Daniel Gschwind, said he supported the push.
“I certainly agree with the sentiment, but I don’t know whether the marketing slogan would work,” Mr Gschwind said.
“I think the best way to keep a community alive is to support it through the expenditure we make as visitors when we go out there.
“It creates not only income but business opportunities which in turn creates life in those communities.”
Mr Gschwind said he also believed more could be done to generate visitation in regional areas.
“I thought about this when my own children were subsidised to go to Canberra to visit our national capital,” he said.
“I think we should equally support our children to go to the Queensland outback.”
Longreach Regional Mayor, Ed Warren, who recently returned from a trip to China to promote the outback experience, said it was important to tap into the international market.
“People in China were so in awe of what we’ve got to offer out here,” Mr Warren said.
“They’re looking for new experiences and we’ve got some worldclass attractions.
“If it wasn’t for tourism some of our businesses and our communities wouldn’t even exist because tourism has been the backbone [in this region] over the last number of years.”
However, Mr Warren said he was not convinced about Mr Gschwind’s proposal to have subsidised school visits to the region.
“We’ve got to be careful that we’re not just surviving on subsidies and handouts,” Mr Warren said.
“The notion out here is we’d like a hand-up so we can look to the future and be self-sufficient.”
Peter Homan from the Outback Queensland Tourism Association has welcomed Mr Littleproud’s statement.
“We’ve been growing at about 13.7 per cent on average over the last three years. The state average is about 2.3 per cent and the national average is about 4 per cent,” Mr Homan said.
“There’s a real appetite for coming out west and coming to the outback. The average visitor spends about $153 a night per region.
“We’re looking at the traditional grey nomads, or what we call empty-nesters, so they might be away from anywhere between six days to six weeks.”
Mr Littleproud’s Cabinet colleague Scott Morrison oversaw the Where the Bloody Hell Are You campaign in 2006 when he was Managing Director of Tourism Australia.
The campaign similarly hoped to market outback Australia.