Professor Michael Powell, Pro Vice Chancellor (Business). Photo Contributed Chris Stacey
Professor Michael Powell, Pro Vice Chancellor (Business). Photo Contributed Chris Stacey Contributed

Business chambers call for region name change

ACCORDING to a new poll a vast majority of Northern Rivers business owners and community leaders say the region urgently needs a new marketing strategy.

It revealed that 83% of those surveyed including chamber of commerce leaders, councillors, industry groups, and business proprietors say the region is in need of a major promotional shake-up.

The poll, undertaken for the Northern Star by the Griffith University Business School, tracks business confidence in all key sectors quarterly as well as surveying opinion on current local issues.

Griffith University Pro-Vice Chancellor (Business), Professor Michael Powell said the poll produced a strong call for greater marketing impetus and also revealed a significant degree of frustration regarding promotion of the region's assets.

"Clearly local businesses want to see a new strategic direction for the region, which has a vast diversity of attractions - they want action and an injection of more funds for marketing," said Professor Powell.

"Concerns about the image and lack of innovative thinking in regard to promotion have been consistently expressed in previous polls and clearly the business community now wants more than talk.

"A number of previous surveys have, for example, revealed the opinion of many business leaders that greater advantage should be taken of the huge resource offered by the Gold Coast and South-East Queensland generally.

"However there appears to be no clearly defined or well-communicated strategy to achieve this objective."

Sixty two per cent of respondents also recorded the view that "Northern Rivers" was an appropriate tourism brand for the region while 38 per cent opposed its retention.

Questioned on their support for a range of alternative names, 20 per cent favoured North Coast, 11 per cent Rainbow Coast/Region, 9 per cent, Summerland Coast and 9 per cent Green Coast.

Fifty one per cent of respondents did not support any of the alternatives.

John Murray, Regional Manager, Northern Rivers - NSW Business Chamber, called for a name change.

"Northern Rivers as a tourism brand just doesn't make the grade - we need a strong tactical name that gives us a better foundation from which to go forward," said Mr Murray.

Paul Waters, President, Byron United also supported calls for a change.

"The Far North Coast of NSW would benefit greatly from a defined regional name such as The Green Coast - it would need substantial financial support from Destination NSW to establish the new brand."

Paul Button, President, Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce said, to achieve thriving and vibrant business on the Northern Rivers there was an urgent need for businesses to come together in an endeavour to promote the area as a united face.

"There is a need for participation and input from as many local businesses as possible," said Mr Button.

Stuart Garrett, Director, S+P Lawyers called on the Councils of the region to spell out their proposed strategic directions and invited feedback.

"All could then understand where they want to go, how they plan to get there and what their priorities for the local economy are," said Mr Garrett.

Professor Powell said the other key findings of the poll related to confidence in the economy in the next quarter, especially in regard to business expectations for the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

Regarding the economy generally over the next three months and expectations for the Christmas/New Year period, positive responses rose by 16 per cent.

Respondents were also optimistic when it came to property market during the holiday period, with positive responses up 30 per cent in total.

Positive expectations from the tourism sector also rose by 30 per cent; for retail, 22 per cent and for rural industries, 12 per cent.

Eighty two per cent of business owners indicated they would maintain staff levels (up 10 per cent), 12 per cent that they would increase staff (up 8 per cent) and 6 per cent that they would reduce staff (down 18 per cent).

Forty four per cent expected an increase in turnover during the next three months (up by 16 per cent since) while 42 per cent were expecting the same turnover.

Sixty six per cent indicated an expectation of greater business benefits if Queensland adopted daylight savings while 34 per cent expected no gain.

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