Point one: Vacant land isn’t necessarily being wasted.

Over the six weeks there were more than a hundred local people who volunteered to talk to visitors to town, explain what was going on and what the visitors were looking at, and generally promote the town. I was one of the volunteers, and therefore have a pretty fair idea of the visitors’ reactions, both to the film and the town itself.

I would have liked a dollar for every comment along the lines of “We usually drive straight past, but we heard about the movie and decided to pop in for a look.” I reckon the proceeds would easily cover the cost of a dozen bottles of good wine. Maybe not a dozen Grange, but certainly a fair bit more upmarket than a dozen el-cheapo cleanskins. 

Point two: If we can encourage people to turn off the highway and spend some time in town they’ll probably spend some money as well, but we need to give them a reason to make the detour.

It has been suggested that reason might well come when the Front Beach redevelopment, which will definitely be a major asset to the town, is finished. There’ll be some movie content incorporated into the design, but the presence of a nice beachfront with a few pictures of the movie won’t necessarily be enough to prompt people to turn off the highway. 

The town’s big selling points in this regard are the beaches and a few other features that need to be enhanced so that word of mouth and some well-directed advertising along the highway and in the national media will encourage people to venture off the highway.

It would be even better if we could encourage them to stay overnight, grab dinner and breakfast and, most importantly tell all their friends and relatives that Bowen is worth a visit and, more importantly a stopover.

Point three: The Front Beach development is all very well, but we need to keep an eye on what is happening along the beach front from Flagstaff Hill around to the mouth of the Don and in the current downtown area. 

If you’re going to try to encourage people to come into town it helps to have a reason like the movie to encourage them to make the effort. That’s where annual events like the Fishing Classic are important, and we need more of them. The difficulty, of course, is finding a couple of events that don’t already have an equivalent elsewhere in our part of the world.. 

Those community events end up relying on Volunteers and other unpaid or subsidised labour (where the wages are covered by someone else), and what they’re willing to do will vary from Volunteer to Volunteer. 

Personally, I was quite happy with the movie Volunteer gig, but haven’t been racing out to offer my services anywhere else. As indicated elsewhere, I don’t need any more obsessions and my interests tend to be specific rather than general and I don’t like asking people for things. The movie Volunteer gig involved a fair bit of time over a limited period of time, which suited me down to a “T.”

Those special events don’t necessarily have to be extravaganzas. Anything that brings groups of people into town, encourages them to stay overnight (or longer) and spend money on meals and so on would fill the bill, but if they’re the sorts of events that will attract crowds rather than groups the benefits to the community will multiply accordingly.

Point four: If we’re wanting to encourage people to visit the town, a couple of extra special events slotted into the calendar would go a long way towards creating the situation where visitors to town might be tempted to return, possibly at other times of the year

 © Ian Hughes 2014