GROWING Tourism potential for Bingara

July 30, 2013

Letter to the editor of The Bingara Advocate
Last Saturday night Susan and I attended the NSW Inland Tourism Awards held in Moree. We were there to represent Garry and Linda McDouall whose enterprise “The River House” was a finalist in the Unique Accommodation section.

Moree did a fantastic job in hosting the event. Their Town Hall was “dressed up” for the occasion and the theme for the night, “the Roarin’ Twenties and Thirties” was reflected everywhere, from the hall decorations and the magic music from the Moochers, to the “Guys & Dolls” dress-ups of the guests.

I thought there was a great opportunity for Bingara and its businesses and tourist focused activities, to learn from the Awards, and enhance OUR “tourist business”. Tourism produces “soft dollars’. Visitors to our town and district directly and indirectly boost our economy. They create jobs, and add to our reputation as a friendly, welcoming community, where people would like to visit and perhaps settle.

Bingara has so much going for it. Our beautiful soft hill surroundings, the river, our “pocket” national parks, our farms, our town icons and architecture, our sports, our festivals, our schools and our businesses, ALL have the potential to provide worthy finalists in the Inland Tourism Awards.

As well as the unique “River House”, I think that our pubs and clubs, our Orange Festival, The Roxy, the Jackaroo Jillaroo Downunder offer, our Bingara Website, fossicking, fishing, bird watching, boating, and our Gwydir Shire Council’s enterprise, are all potential winners at the Tourism Awards.

I also believe that a simple, but effective link across our community, that could provide a focus for our town and district to engage with tourists and visitors while serving our own needs, is “local food”. By becoming “THE place” in Australia where fresh local food is sown, grown and served up for locals and visitors, we can boost our local economy, keep ourselves active and healthy, and enjoy the delights of good food and good company.

Our Orange Picking and the associated Orange Festival, show that we can do it. The Living Classroom is expanding the ideal and adding education and research into the equation.

I encourage all of us to try producing our own food, and sharing any surpluses. If you have an abundance of produce, more than what and your family and neighbours can use, why not take it to your favourite pub, club, café or store and ask if they could use it?

Fresh food provides a challenge, to be prepared or preserved, so that it can be enjoyed. Home grown produce is healthier and tastes so much better than foods that have travelled thousands of kilometres, been sprayed and manipulated to last, just to give the impression of being good.

I encourage all of our businesses and activities that have an engagement with tourists, to start now, thinking of ways to boost visitor numbers, leaving a lasting taste and a positive memory from their “fresh and unique” Bingara experience. Remember that there is a BARGAIN in BINGARA, it just takes a little bit of manipulation.

It was great to share stories and ideas with the finalists from all over NSW at the Inland Tourism Awards evening. “The River House” came second in their section. Congratulations to Garry and Linda and all those who work with them to make it a worthy entry.

Next year’s finals will be presented in Griffith. Let’s see that Bingara has entries in many more categories and that we lift our performances in the tourism business and achieve the status of being fantastic finalists and worthy winners. If you are interested in these opportunities and would like to add to the discussion please come along to a Bingara and District VISION 20/20 meeting. The August General Meeting is this Thursday August 1st at the Imperial Hotel from 6:30pm.

Regards,

Rick Hutton