We chat with Ella Winnall, Community Services Coordinator, Berri Barmera Council, about an idea that was fostered during her participation in the ELP and PLP - which has now culminated in the first ever SA Regional Tourism Summit. (16-18 May 2017)
Hi Ella - please tell us about the Regional Tourism Summit.
The Riverland Tourism Industry and the South Australian Tourism Commission are inviting representatives of local government (both staff and elected members), visitor information centres and tourism businesses to come together for the first ever SA Regional Tourism Summit.
It is a diverse three-day program of high calibre speakers and professional development opportunities, off-site study tours and networking sessions. For all the details head to www.destinationriverland.org.au/summit to download a program.
What do you hope to achieve through the summit?
We hope to bring together all parts of the tourism industry together to foster better collaboration and understanding in the industry, especially for local government delegates. We have lots of events in the tourism world which are delivered to just one part of the industry, and we felt it important to have business owners, senior managers, visitor information centre coordinators, and elected members in the same room to cross pollinate ideas. We have chosen to keep our content realistic and practical for councils who want to get better value from their tourism investment.
What councils are involved - and why?
From the start we have had support from all four Riverland Councils (Berri Barmera Council, Renmark Paringa Council, District Council of Loxton Waikerie and Mid Murray Council) to make the event happen. Together with Destination Riverland and the SATC, the Summit has been a collaborative effort. Our councils invest heavily in tourism in one way or another, whether it be funding regional marketing through Destination Riverland, operating visitor information centres and museums or providing facilities for visitors.
The councils in the Riverland see tourism as key to their economic development goals, and work well together to promote the whole district as a tourist destination rather than just one town. Our councils felt this was a great opportunity to showcase to the rest of the state some of the initiatives the region has delivered, and create a platform for a much needed cross-industry discussion about the future of tourism (and local government’s involvement in it).
What are the highlights - who's speaking - and what about?
Day one has some amazing guest speakers, including SATC Destination Development Director Nick Jones, marketing guru Dan Gregory, and brothers Duane Major & Adam Gardner from NZ who crowdfunded about $2million to buy a private beach in NZ and return it to the public.
We also have Sean Keenihan speaking at our final dinner, to talk all things economic development and SA tourism.
I am looking forward most to our day two choose your own adventure study tours, with morning and afternoon tours taking you on-site to see first hand how some of our local success stories have worked. You can learn about local government’s role in tourism, how to measure your events, sustainable accommodation projects, food and wine tourism, even eco tourism, it’s up to you!
Who should attend and why?
Tourism & Economic development staff, event staff, senior management, and elected members are all encouraged to attend. In particular, we want to see some delegates from other regional areas. It’s not often an event of this calibre is delivered on a level which is achievable for smaller councils, or councils with small tourism investment so it’s a good opportunity for them to come without feeling out of their depth. Because of the style of our summit allowing delegates to choose what they want to attend, it means we are having councils register a few staff from different levels to all get what they want out of it. Registrations close mid April so sign your council up asap so you don’t miss out.
How will you measure the success of the event? - and are you planning this to be an annual event?
It’s pretty rare to get all of the right heads together to do something like this, with industry, local government, marketing bodies and state government all making it happen – so that in itself says a lot about the event’s success. All we need now is for delegates to come and it to spark some really good initiatives around the whole state.
We aren’t sure whether this will happen again. If there is enough interest in it this year, we think it could be done every second year in conjunction with the regional visitor information centre managers conference – but that will be a conversation for another region’s councils to take it on. We sure hope it starts something for the state!
Since you are a recent graduate of the PLP (Professional Leaders Program) and ELP (Emerging Leaders Program) - is there anything you learned during the ELP or PLP (or any relationships you made) that have in some way contributed to your work on this Regional Summit? If so, in what way?
I honestly couldn’t be doing this without the lessons I learnt in the ELP and PLP. It’s a huge undertaking to take on, and having the confidence to do it was a direct result of those programs. I actually started the conversations about this project while doing the ELP, and secured the key stakeholders in the middle of the PLP. The professional connections I made in both the programs were key to the success of the project, particularly with developing content, securing speakers and finding sponsors.
Both the PLP and ELP gave me a better understanding of the issues facing councils across the state, which was great to know that it wasn’t just us – and a state wide approach is warranted.
Both of the programs also gave me access to some insightful speakers like Sean Keenihan, who was all too happy to speak at our event when I approached him about the concept. I also think the help and generosity of sponsors like LGRS and LG Professionals, SA probably wouldn’t be afforded to me if I was trying to make contact without any connection or knowledge of the organisations.
In addition to this, the networks I made within the program have helped me so much, even if it has just been to send the program onto the right people in their councils – that’s such a help.