Today’s progressive destinations respond to demand-led initiatives, where councils and tourism organizations work in concert with the private sector to streamline process. Local government may still actively pursue potential new projects, but its role is now more one of facilitation.
By having a sound strategic planning policy framework, identifying precincts or individual sites where tourism development is considered appropriate, and creating an environment conducive to business, councils are in a good position to actively attract investment.
This may be achieved by the following:
- Offering rate reductions or other financial assistance, if such investment is considered to have long term economic benefit to the community.
- Conducting seminars for developers, identifying development opportunities on particular sites or precincts and outlining how council would help in facilitating a tourism proposal. This may include providing professional or design expertise, financial incentives like those mentioned above etc.
- Outlining the organizational and decision-making structure within council, so that a developer is fully aware of how an application will be coordinated and assessed.
- Outlining the planning assessment procedure, including the details of any pre-application consultations and possible times frames in which a decision would be likely to be made.
- Offering to ‘fast track’ an application which is consistent with municipal strategic statement, or other strategic planning policy document.
- Assigning a project officer whose prime focus would be to oversee the project, coordinate the community consultation program and ensure the proposal progresses.
Ways to facilitate tourism infrastructure development:
- Coordinating decision-making between different departments in council,
- Promoting pre-application consultations,
- Involving the community at the earliest possible stages,
- Fast tracking appropriate applications,
- Assessing the development in the context of whether the proposal will result in net community benefit and monitoring and reviewing planning facilitation procedures.
In terms of providing its own infrastructure to service and enhance the area’s tourism industry, local government’s responsibilities may include:
- Visitor information services (visitor info centers, roadside bays, electronic kiosks, welcome shops)
- Directional and interpretative signing
- Toilets (clean toilets can provide a lasting impression of a town, even for fleeting visitors)
- Streetscaping and roadside beautification, especially at the entrances to urban areas
- Well-constructed and maintained roads
- Recreational assets, such as parks, reserves, picnic/ BBQ facilities, walking trails
You can read more on building tourism-friendly infrastructure on tourismexcellence.com.au