Broken Hill Business owners are preparing for one of the busiest tourist seasons in many years with the April calendar packed with events such Mundi Mundi Bash, Perfect Light Film Festival, Fresh Water Festival, Broken Hill Heritage Festival, and the Boneyard Sessions Western NSW Tour.
Experts have emphasised the importance of the tourist economy for Broken Hill and how the town can coordinate to maximise the experience and offers presented to visitors.
Carl Solomon, the Director of Destination Marketing Store who previously visited four LGAS across Balranald Shire, Broken Hill, Central Darling Shire and Wentworth Shire Council as part of the regions Destination Management Plan (DMP), says that the secret to attracting more visitors to a city is not so different from the advice you might have heard from the likes of Dale Carnegie Oprah Winfrey or Tony Robbins.
He said it’s important for cities to “stop talking about themselves and engage with the people they would like to visit”.
“It’s a good idea to start by thinking about the customer first,” he said.
Mr Solomon said that events are a major attractor and that it is important for businesses to communicate and collaborate to get the mix right and ensure the visitor experience is full and well rounded.
“Events are a real attractor, particularly events in the landscape, they drive visitation, and people get excited. They are really a good way to put your town on the map.”
Mundi Mundi Bash organiser Greg Donovan said that from surveys conducted for the Birdsville BIG Red Bash Festival he understands the people are typically turning the event into a 1 1/2 to 2 weeks vacation trip.
“A lot of people are going to be coming from all over Australia, so I guess it’s not only Broken Hill that gets the benefit, but we also expect a lot of people to come and stay in Broken Hill the week before the event.”
“I think 12 million dollars was the total spends of all the people coming to the Birdsville Bash,” he said.
“Dubbo, Cobar, Bourke, they will all see a busier period as people travel through.”
Karren Howe of Business Far West NSW said that there will be a lot of great opportunities in the next few months to show and expose what Broken Hill has to offer.
“We need to make everybody aware, all business and tourism operators, that we need to be open outside normal hours to capture people coming to broken hill.
“The business model has been changed; we need to be open, when these people are available to come to our community.”
Ms Howe, who has been hosting Mundi Mundi information nights through Business Far West NSW, said that after so many Covid related event cancellations in recent times it is important to ensure people know that Mundi Mundi is coming and there will be an influx of 10,000 people in the town. She said that while one business alone may not be able to solve that problem by itself, through coordinating efforts and services and working together collaboratively, there is more opportunity to find a better value proposition.
“The issues they are having may be the same as somebody else, when you share that information, you can start to think about solutions and how we can work together.”
Mr Solomon said that when you think about your own travel experiences, it is so often a great encounter, or a simple hospitality experience that sticks with us.
“The overall experience of your visit can be undermined if you haven’t got all of the parts working together,” he said.
“Communication and collaboration can really grow and levitate the overall appeal of the region.”
Operations Manager at Experience Broken Hill, Michael McIvor, said that when we talk about the visitor economy it’s a circular economy in which new money comes into town and has a massive flow-on effect.
“For every dollar that comes through a commercial campground, $1.34 goes back into the community.”
“The visitor economy represents 480 jobs within Broken Hill and contributes 124 million dollars as part of the visitor economy.”
Mr McIvor said that if Broken Hill wants to keep growing and moving forward, it is the visitor economy, and not the Monday to Friday that will allow this to happen.
“People need to be putting in plans now to get ready for the busy season coming up, making sure they have staff, reducing their menu, making sure they have stock.”
Mr McIvor said The Deli is a great example of a business taking advantage of some gaps in the hospitality offering.
“They have been able to pay their team on public holidays, because they know people will show up, because other people are shut.”
Broken Hill Bookshop owner, Johnathan Cooper said that he wasn’t going to open the bookshop on Sunday, but because neighbour The Deli is he thought it would be good for people to have a browse while they wait for their coffee.
“It’s been busy on Sunday mornings, my original plan was to close Sunday and Monday, but now that Sunday is busy, I will open Sunday mornings,” he said
“I always update my hours through social media, which allows me to see what works.
“When the tourists are here, I will be opening every day.”
Mr Donovan said that he hopes businesses can see the Mundi Mundi Bash as an opportunity.
“Some slightly longer trading hours at certain times and perhaps making sure they have got reasonable levels of stock on hand.
“We are very confident there will be a lot more trade in and around Broken Hill at that time, we hope the businesses that do want to take advantage of that, should benefit from it.”