Granite Belt tourism organisation unsure of future moves

Michael Bourke has resigned as the president of Granite Belt Wine Tourism.
Michael Bourke has resigned as the president of Granite Belt Wine Tourism. Emma Boughen

FOLLOWING a turbulent month in Southern Downs tourism, including the shock resignation of Destination Southern Downs general manager Tracy Vellacott, the Granite Belt Wine Tourism board bunkered down at its annual general meeting this week.

New president Ann Bourke said on Monday the future of the group was at the forefront of discussions.

"GBWT will continue as an industry-focused organisation, that is a given," she said.

But how that group will look remains unclear.

Mrs Bourke, who replaced her husband, Michael, in the top job, said the board would hold off making any decisions about membership and assets, including the existing GBWT website, until after DSD presented its prospectus on Monday.

"Once we have that information we can then meet with the members again and work out which direction we want to proceed," she said.

"From our perspective DSD isn't going away, we need to work together to maintain successful destination marketing for the Granite Belt."

Mrs Bourke said given the Warwick region had previously operated under a council-funded organisation, if DSD was to offer memberships and Granite Belt organisations took them up, that would give the southern region a significant voice.

"Most Warwick operators won't be used to paying membership for their tourist body, whereas on the Granite Belt we're accustomed to getting back what we put in," she said.

Despite the uncertainty of the local industry, GBWT members rejoiced in what some called their "most successful" winter season.

Mrs Bourke said the boost was the result of a number of things, including a successful string of marketing strategies targeting Brisbane holidaymakers.

On behalf of the immediate past president board member Peter O'Reilly gave a presentation covering marketing strategies since October last year.

40,000 Wine Trail Maps produced by the GBWT were distributed across all Brisbane ferries, at wine industry events and visitor information centres in New South Wales and south-east Queensland, as well as at the Regional Flavours festival at South Bank and the Ekka.

The Brisbane Rivercat campaign comprising 224 five-second poster-style advertisements a week (a total of 5800 advertisements in peak commuter times) ran for 26 weeks from March to the end of August 2015. It cost $3088.

50,000 four-page colour brochures were inserted into inner-Brisbane community newspapers at a cost of $3443.

They ran an 18-week campaign of 15-second advertisements on all four screens at the Palace Cinema.

The 3000 ads, which ran from April to June and will repeat September 3 to November 21, cost $6204.

50,000 copies of a 36-page A4 glossy visitor guide were published in April.

To maintain marketing momentum the GBWT proposed that as all website development costs have been paid to Bookeasy that they should drive bookings to it and return commissions to website marketing.

The group will also turn their attentions from Brisbane to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and the Northern Rivers region.

GBWT board

President: Ann Bourke from Jester Hill Wines took over as her husband, Michael, resigned

Vice-president: Peter Gray from Wine Discover tours will hold his position

Sam Costanzo from Golden Grove will continue in his role as representative for the wine subcommittee

New board member Tere Bonner from Aloomba Lavender will represent accommodation operators alongside fellow board members Brad Hutchings from Savina Lane Winery, QCWT chief executive Peter O'Reilly and Tony Hassall from Just Red Wines

Topics:  destination southern downs granite belt wine and tourism stanthorpe tourism winery

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