The power of an anchor tourism product to transform a regional town
There is incredible power to use an anchor tourism product to transform a small regional town into a destination.
Tilma Group has worked for the last seven years with Coolamon Shire Council, consisting of the towns of Coolamon (the largest with a population of 1,600), Ardlethan, Ganmain, Marrar, Beckom and Matong, near Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Seven years ago, the shire was purely focused on agriculture and is now a thriving weekend destination.
In the beginning, Tilma Group worked with businesses to build their capacity, and developing relationships.
Five years ago, we created an events strategy for the shire to use events as the hook for tourism development. A seasonal events calendar which is still going strong today focuses on encouraging shire residents to invite friends and family to visit and encouraging day trips to the region at event time.
Tilma Group helped develop a New Year’s Eve Street Party [photo], sponsored by Council and run by Rotary. The event is just $10 for kids which includes fireworks, children’s activities, a showbag and face-painting. Adults are free to spread out a picnic rug, relax and enjoy the evening, spending time with friends as the whole community joins them in the main street’s park for the celebration.
Three years ago, Council saw an opportunity to attract a cheese factory to town which needed to move from a nearby university. Tilma Group worked hard with Council and the community to make Coolamon Cheese a reality. We assisted the cheesemaker business owners with their business plan and connected them with key stakeholders and funding bodies. Now Coolamon Cheese offers tours in the cheese factory and a modern restaurant.
With Coolamon Cheese now open, the main street is buzzing with new cafes and boutique shopping, the community is excited, and Coolamon has been revitalised… The increased visitation from this anchor attraction led Council to double the size of the town’s caravan park, and happened concurrently with new bike and walking trails in the town’s forest. Other attractions round out a visitor’s trip to town, such as a museum complex its special café, Ajanta.
Coolamon Shire Council also developed a partnership with two neighbouring shires to create a tourist destination in the region called the Canola Trail. The trail connects the towns through experiences based on food, heritage, nature and recreation, arts and boutique shopping. Tilma Group is assisting the project with the development of marketing collateral such as a website, a map/brochure and graphic design.
With all these changes, Tilma Group is now working on a new three-year tourism and events strategy to reposition Coolamon as a must-visit destination, with visitation no longer tied only to events in the shire. Itineraries and themes will work to spread visitation around the shire.