2 - A Vision for a Vibrant Visitor Economy
Defined by its warm and inviting local villages, its breath-taking mountain scenery, native forests, placid waterways and picturesque patchwork landscape, the Somerset Regional Council area covers 5,379 square kilometres. With a population of approximately 26,200, Somerset is home to almost 2,100 businesses and around 6,100 jobs. Somerset Region’s key industries include agriculture, food product manufacturing, retail, health, education and construction services as well as a developing visitor economy.
Located just one hour and fifteen minutes’ drive from central Brisbane, Somerset, with its authentic country lifestyle, feels a world away. The region’s five main townships include Esk, Kilcoy, Fernvale, Lowood and Toogoolawah, which are hubs for a diversity of communities dispersed throughout the region. The region’s smaller villages including Linville, Jimna, Harlin, Moore and Coominya also play important roles in the social and economic lives of the region’s residents.
Situated in the south-east corner of Queensland and part of Australia’s fastest-growing region, Somerset takes in the Brisbane and Stanley river catchments with meandering waterways and great lakes surrounded by a beautiful natural environment. This provides a diverse playground for residents and visitors alike, including anglers, birdwatchers and water sports enthusiasts. The region’s expansive wilderness is ideal for camping and four-wheel driving, and with a diversity of walking trails and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Somerset is a drawcard for walkers, trail runners, horse-riders and cyclists.
Somerset Regional Council is pro-active in its commitment to the design and delivery of initiatives which serve to support the local visitor economy and Somerset Region’s prosperity more generally. It pro-actively works in collaboration with regional tourism agencies and the tourism industry to enhance the ‘Experience Somerset’ brand and to deliver associated marketing, product development, visitor servicing and support infrastructure programs. The aim is to promote Somerset as a premier regional visitor destination defined by a diversity of authentic experiences built on its natural features, iconic attractions and its recreational, heritage and cultural assets. In order to grow the tourism sector in Somerset, Council has a key role to play in addressing the ‘enablers’ of a vibrant visitor economy. These enablers include:
• A conducive natural, built and social/cultural environment.
• Quality infrastructure and services (including transport and communications, hospitality services, accommodation, entertainment and events and cultural attractions).
• Effective information management (including research, marketing, visitor information and wayfinding).
• Business support (e.g. customer service training, digital learning, marketing and branding).
The development of a strong and sustainable visitor economy also requires Somerset to embrace its connections with the wider region. This means leveraging the marketing and promotional power of the region’s location within South East Queensland and its proximity to major attractions and events. This is particularly important in light of Brisbane’s status as the preferred candidate city / bidder to host the 2032 Olympic Games.