MACKAY has been overlooked when it comes to State Government tourism funding in the past, due to lack of tourism operators and a fixation with mining.
But an important industry forum involving the Queensland Premier and up to eight government ministers will be the perfect time to change that, says Mackay Tourism general manager Tas Webber.
It comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said creating jobs in tourism in the Mackay and Whitsunday regions was "a priority" for the government.
The forum will be held for the first time in Mackay on October 25 and will include keynote speakers such as the Premier, Minister for Tourism Kate Jones and the managing director of Tourism Australia John O'Sullivan.
"The DestinationQ Forum is actually led by the State Government. It's a forum talking about initiatives led by the government," Mr Webber said.
"Almost the entire Cabinet will be here and it's the perfect way for (tourism) operators and Mackay Tourism to let them know about some of the huge opportunities we have in our region.
"We just want to let them know we're back on the map. For a few years there we were not focusing on tourism, but now we're back to a focus on tourism, with the support of our local council and state members.
"We need to let them know we take tourism seriously and that we're a real contender."
Mr Webber believes the forum will result in more opportunities coming Mackay's way when it comes to tourism, as well as more funding.
"I think we're definitely lacking (in government funding), but I think that shows we have a lack of operators, especially tour operators, so I think if we proportionately look at where things are at, when you look at Airlie, which has 140 trade ready members out there, the proportion is about right.
"But we're trying to do more work in our own backyard first so we can apply for more funding.
"I think we had, as a region, different priorities in the past and it sort of showed the focus wasn't really on tourism.
"And we've got to show the amount of people we're supporting with funding. For example, if we apply for half a million dollars in funding, but only have five operators, when another area who applies has 100 operators, who do you really think they'll give the money to?"
Mr Webber said the forum would allow Mackay Tourism to "set the scene of where we're heading".
"They'll be aware of the issues we face getting our operators up and going and can help leverage tourism opportunities," he said.
"But it's a two-way street. It's important for us to think about how we leverage things. It's important we don't rest on what the State does, but do our own thing and put it into action.
"This is a great opportunity for us, having so many ministers in the region."
Visit destq.com.au for more information about the forum.
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