LURING the almighty tourist dollar remains one of the pivotal challenges for our business community and our civic leaders.
Money spent by tourists provides a welcome injection into the Griffith economy – especially at a time when retail spending is flat – and helps create and support jobs.
Suzie Sternberg, Wilga Park Cottage owner. Member of council’s tourism committee and the Riverina Regional Tourism Board:
“Tourism can bring so much money into a community, not just to accommodation houses and attractions, but to chemists, supermarkets and a lot of other businesses. It can make a real diference in hard times. Council plays an important role in helping it flourish.
"Firstly, we need to look that the entrances into town are well-maintained. It doesn’t always give a good impression. The pride we take in our community is shown by how we look after it. Council can also support tourism operators by encouraging development that might bring in tourists. Our festivals are great and well spread-out through the year but it’s a bit of a pity our wineries aren’t all open on weekends.
"We also have to remember that tourists don’t just come from overseas or interstate – they come from places like Coleambally, Wagga and Leeton. The Hermit’s Cave precinct needs to be maintained because it is so unique. We’ve got to grab onto those unique things we have to offer.”
Tourism is the sleeping giant of the Griffith economy.
To awaken its true potential, council and the business community must take a co-ordinated strategy focusing on what makes the city unique.
Food, wine and our strong Italian heritage must underpin that strategy. Griffith’s reputation as a food hub and a “little Italy” position it perfectly for the tourism market and events like La Festa, unWINEd and the salami festival should be value-added to attract more visitors.
The loss of outgoing tourism manager Rick Matkowski is a huge blow for the city but hopefully his successor Greg Lawrence can fill his shoes, with the support of council.
Preserving the Hermit’s Cave precinct should remain a top priority for the next council, as should ensuring the entrances to the city and our public parks and gardens are adequately maintained.