Leveraging off the Lake Ballard sculptures and creating new arts, culture and heritage-focused events and trails are ideas suggested in a four-year strategy to increase visitors to the Shire of Menzies.
At last week’s meeting councillors voted to receive and distribute for community consultation the draft Menzies Tourism Development Strategy 2022 and Destination Marketing Plan 2022.
The documents suggest ways to redefine how tourism is delivered in the Shire and attract tourists from across the globe.
Shire chief executive Brian Joiner said the documents were more than “nice words that sit in a drawer” and included initiatives to achieve the strategy.
While he said the town did not need to actively target more tourists due to the caravan park being “always full” in the cooler months, adding more to the town’s list of attractions would help diversify the economy away from solely relying on mining.
Hosting a gala dinner to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Inside Australia exhibition by world renowned, Turner Prize-winning sculptor Antony Gormley at Lake Ballard next year, and the creation of an outdoor sculptural art competition, were two of the main ideas in the documents.
The “opulent gala dinner” is suggested to be at the Lake Ballard Reserve complete with light installations, live music and “luxury accommodation options” for guests to stay overnight in the area.
The sculptural competition would see the winning model from each year commissioned by the Shire and placed in locations across the town, over time developing into a sculptural art trail.
Shire president Greg Dwyer said he moved during the council meeting for the motion to be amended from councillors “endorsing” the plans, to “receiving” the plans, as he did not believe it should be endorsed prior to community consultation.
He also said he was not sure “where tourism goes in Menzies” because it could cause a “nuisance factor” on the mining industry.
While he welcomed the idea of increased tourism, Cr Dwyer said he did not believe there was enough in the town for it to benefit from an increase yet and more economic development was needed first.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have much in the way of businesses to capitalise on tourism these days,” he said.
“We need to get some businesses in town first.”
The tourism development strategy identified five focus areas around improving quality and quantity of tourism products, increasing accommodation options, enhancing historical assets, developing events and festivals and building awareness of the region.
Both documents will soon be on the Shire’s website for the community to consider and provide comment on before it is presented back to the council.