The Torres Strait will be further developed as a tourism destination through the appointment of a dedicated coordinator for the region at Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ).
The position will be funded for two years by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) as part of its Regional Economic Investment Strategy.
TSRA Chairperson Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM said its board had identified tourism as one of three significant economic drivers for the Torres Strait Region and the appointment would support this focus.
“Establishing relationships with existing bodies such as TTNQ is vital so we can leverage off their expertise and networks and progress initiatives such as this in a strategic manner,” Mr Stephen said.
“We have initiated the partnership with TTNQ to allocate a designated Tourism Co-ordinator for the Torres Strait region which will further enhance what is already available within the region and source potential opportunities for continued growth.
“The appointment is the first step towards creating a highly functioning tourism sector, with the TSRA funding almost $2 million during 2017/18 to advance tourism through three tourism officers within the TSRA footprint as well as this new coordinator role.”
The TTNQ Chief Executive Officer Pip Close announced the appointment of Ashleigh Bartley, previously a Project Officer with Indigenous Business Australia, to the new role of Torres Strait Community Tourism Coordinator.
“Ashleigh will work closely with the three councils,Torres Shire Council, Torres Strait Islander Regional Council and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, and establish and chair a regional tourism committee to develop innovative solutions to grow and enhance the visitor economy in the Torres Strait for the benefit of its communities,” she said.
“As well as providing expert tourism advice to local councils, she will mentor the region’s three event coordinators and three tourism officers.
“A calendar of potential tourism events throughout the Torres Strait region will be developed in partnership with the event coordinators and tourism officers.”
Ms Close said that through this new role, TTNQ aimed to build capacity for local Indigenous people by developing their skills in tourism so that they could take the region forward as a tourism destination.
“There will be close links with the TTNQ marketing team so we can elevate the Torres Strait experiences as part of our work in Tropical North Queensland’s domestic and international markets.
“Ashleigh will be based in TTNQ’s Cairns office and spend up to a week each month in the Torres Strait Region.
“Tropical North Queensland is the only place where the culture of Australia’s two Indigenous peoples can be experienced, but few people get to experience Torres Strait Islander culture.
“The Torres Strait Islands are spectacular, and their people have a unique artistic culture and close links with World War II history and the Japanese pearl diving industry, which is of interest to many of Tropical North Queensland’s key visitor markets.”