We speak to Kim Macdonald about taking the position as the new tourism co-ordinator for the Greater Taree City Council.
> You have recently taken the position of Tourism Coordinator for the GTCC based at the Manning Valley Visitor Information Centre. What were your first impressions?
My first impressions were that the role is incredibly diverse and packed with something different every day. Initially, it has been fast paced and hectic, getting my head around the position. However, I enjoy a challenge and thrive on a fast pace and not knowing what could happen tomorrow.
In just 8 weeks I have already met so many new people from the media, tourism board members, local tourism operators and local industry. It’s very interesting and an eye opener to see what’s on offer in the region.
Working within the Visitor Information Centre environment and hearing what tourists require when they come to visit is interesting, and I’m very lucky to have Barbara Wilson and Kathy Cooper as the Tourist Officers at the VIC. Together they have over 30 years’ experience, and it’s been fabulous to have their support and to be able to call on their extensive knowledge.
Although I know the area fairly well, as we have family on Mitchell’s Island, there are so many other places to discover so I can further promote the area. I’m really looking forward to a planned trip visiting local National Parks with Kevin Carter, Area Manager for NPWS.
Kevin also has a wealth of knowledge about the area’s National Parks, and to promote well, you need to know your product and the stories behind the product. Kevin is an expert at that, with some wonderful cultural history to accompany the sights!
> What do you see as the biggest challenges in your role?
The Manning Valley has so much to offer tourists visiting the area, whether on a short or long term basis, and this information needs to reach a larger audience these days. In such a highly competitive marketplace, we need to cast the net wider.
To enable this, a big challenge for me is to organise more family and media coverage and not only get Sydney, Newcastle and New England journalists writing about this unique area, but interstate journalists as well.
There are many tourists travelling down from south-east Queensland, and we need to try and capture their attention. For that reason we have information at the Camping and Caravan Show in Brisbane from 3-6 June after just returning from the Hunter Valley Show 22-24 May.
> What do you think makes the Manning unique?
I believe the Manning is unique because you can literally drive from the beach to the hinterland and then into mountains in less than an hour. I believe it’s unique because it’s still a place which is very laid back and not developed and full of hustle and bustle like so many other holiday destinations further up the north coast.
You can really reconnect with family and friends without long periods of travel, stress, high rises and lots of people at every beach or tourist attraction you visit!
> You have previous experience in marketing and promotions. How will this help with your new role?
The marketing and promotions experience I have puts me in good stead for promoting the Manning Valley to a wider reaching audience. It also allows the opportunity to look at the target audiences to best utilise the marketing dollars that are available for the promotion of the Manning Valley.
> You relocated from the Hunter to the Manning Valley. What drew you to the area?
Actually, my husband and I were living on the Hawkesbury River in Brooklyn for 2 years after leaving the lower Hunter Valley, where we lived near Wollombi. What drew us to the area were a few things that actually drew us to Wollombi, and then Brooklyn.
Those places were small villages with a real sense of community. Wollombi has about 200 people and Brooklyn 700, so we enjoyed being part of that and knowing a lot of people when we went down the road or to the pub on a Friday night. We knew our neighbours and could depend on them if we needed help, and we like knowing that you can call on people and reciprocate in return.
We also saw our little house in Bobin and fell in love with its backyard leading down onto Dingo Creek. That drove us to come up here and live in another small village (I think Bobin now has 32 people) and escape the noise, traffic lights and stress for good!
> The GTCC’s latest tourism campaign has been launched recently. Who do you hope to reach?
With the launch of the ‘7 Natural Wonders of the Manning Valley’ campaign, running until 30 June, we are targeting visitors from Newcastle, the Hunter and New England areas due to the proximity of the Manning Valley.
We are offering great deals on short breaks to these visitors and enticing them to visit this neighbouring area as it’s so convenient and is easily done on a weekend or long weekend. The great deals offered by various tourism operators in the area are also making it more affordable for the traveller.
The campaign is also targeting people who appreciate the natural beauty of the great outdoors and enticing them to come and see some of the Manning’s natural wonders – one of our greatest strengths.
> The Manning Valley is home to many natural wonders. Which one is your favourite?
Definitely at the moment it’s Ellenborough Falls, but this may change as I get out to see all of them! I’m so lucky that I have this natural wonder just down the road from where I live! With the exception of last weekend (rain, rain and floods), I’ve been driving up to show visiting family and friends nearly every other weekend.
I love the power of the falls and looking down into the canyon 200 metres below – the extra rainfall has made the falls even more breathtaking.
I think it’s amazing that this natural wonder is only a 50 minute drive from the main street of Taree, and you feel like you’re hours away from civilisation. Especially when you get there amongst the Red Cedar and Tallowood trees.
> Have you set yourself key goals that you wish to achieve within this position?
I have several key goals which I aim to achieve in the short term and long term. Some of my short terms goals include organising the upgrading of the Visitor Information Centre with some new photographs and signage and new billboards for the region.
I’m also overseeing the production of a new Manning Valley DVD project to further assist promote the diversity of the valley.
In the long term, I’m also hoping to achieve further media coverage for the Manning Valley targeting specific audiences.
The position of Tourism Coordinator is an exciting and important role, and I look forward to giving it 110% towards assisting to increase awareness and visitation to the beautiful Manning Valley.
> Thank you Kim.