Destination Harvey Region

The Shire’s vision is to further create a sustainable and thriving visitor economy and establish the Harvey Region as a must-visit Western Australian destination.

The Shire is committed to grow the $46.8M local visitor economy by the establishment of a Destination Harvey Region Business Unit and Tourism Advisory Group.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Destination Harvey Business Unit?

Destination Harvey Region is a new business unit that will sit within the Shire’s Sustainable Development directorate to grow our visitor economy.

The business unit will comprise: 

Tourism Development and Industry Support Officer (TDIS) 

This role will work to unite the Shire and local tourism industry to assist in driving tourism toward a front-of-mind recognition. With the Sustainable Development team, it will also prioritise attracting tourism investment to the region. 

To take the visitor information to the visitor, the TDIS Officer will focus on improving collateral (brochures and maps) distribution, implementing a staged signage program (including national tourism directional, entry statements, information bays and interpretative signage) and creating tourism ambassadors within the community.

In partnership with other tourism stakeholders, the TDIS Officer will support capacity building and tourism and hospitality business improvement. 

Destination Marketing Officer 

The Destination Marketing Officer will implement an annual Communications Plan, including market-leading digital content and campaigns to raise the Harvey Region’s brand awareness predominantly within the Perth, Peel and South West markets.  

Importantly, this will reduce brand message duplication and lack of connectivity between the significant tourism deliverables of the Shire and the promotion of the region. 

Destination Event Officer 

This role will focus on the development of iconic and major events that support our brand and generate visitation growth. 

The role will also implement initiatives to support and build capacity within our existing tourism-focused events. 

Furthermore, the Destination Event Officer will work with other Shire directorates to create Shire asset activation, review event grants, and develop a more user-friendly Shire events package application. 

Harvey Region Tourism Advisory Group 

A Tourism Advisory Group will provide advice to the Destination Harvey Region business unit and maintain a crucial connection with the industry and community.  

An Expression of Interest will be conducted to create a combined skills and industry based committee.  

The Tourism Advisory Group will also deliver bi-annual social events, encouraging the local tourism industry to attend, brainstorm and collaborate. 

Shire officers are preparing a Harvey Region Tourism Implementation Plan which will provide a 10-year+ road map for the Destination Harvey Region business unit, government, industry and other stakeholders to grow the visitor economy focusing on:

  • Visitor Servicing, 
  • Destination Marketing, 
  • Destination Development and Investment,
  • Industry Support, and
  • Destination Events. 

The Tourism Implementation Plan will be presented to Council in December for public release early next year.

Why does the Shire want to manage tourism?

We have listened intently to our community and ratepayers and their desire for a stronger tourism sector.

In January 2021, the Shire commissioned a leading tourism place-maker, We Are Best, to consult with our community and stakeholders and provide strategic advice.

Eight-three per cent of survey respondents said they would like more tourists, 70 per cent thought there was inadequate information about what to do in the Harvey Region, and 61 per cent believe we require a tourism magnet. Respondents also indicated the desire to celebrate our food bowl, improve signage and create a major sporting event in the region.

In response, the Harvey Region Tourism Strategic Report 2021 (Strategic Report) was developed as an informing document for Council.

A key recommendation of the Strategic Report was that Council conduct a feasibility study into bringing tourism in-house. Eight out of 10 local governments directly employ staff that have a tourism role (ART Local Government Report 2017), with numerous existing successful local government tourism models, including Southern Highlands, Exmouth and Bendigo. 

As the Shire enters a period of increased commitment to tourism and significant infrastructure development, now more than ever, it is critical that it coordinates all aspects of tourism through a singular business unit

Furthermore, with the removal of a membership model, the Destination Harvey Region business unit should encourage greater industry participation and promotion.

Why Invest in Tourism?

The Shire’s Economic Development Strategy 2020-2025 lists tourism is one of our four key deliverables to grow the economy.

The Harvey Region’s visitor economy generates $46.8M direct output. With an economic multiplier (circular flow of income) of 1.9 (ie $88.9M), it also creates the largest value-add, greater than any other local industry driver, including mining and agriculture.

After Bunbury ($273M), the Harvey Region’s visitor economy surpasses every other Bunbury Geographe local government, together with Shire of Dardanup/Ferguson Valley at only $27.6M direct output and Collie at $36.9M. 

There is also enormous potential to considerably grow the Harvey Region’s visitor economy and secure some of the visitor spend currently occurring in the South West, including Busselton ($484M), Margaret River ($261M) and Manjimup ($100M).  

An average visitor to the Harvey Region spends more than $492 per trip. Investment within our accommodation and tourism product will support growth and more closely align us with visitor trip spend in Margaret River ($777) and Busselton ($528).

Importantly, ‘keeping it local’, visitor spend tends to stay within the local economy with the tourism sector the largest support of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in regional Australia. 

In addition to the economic benefits, tourism creates community pride and improves a region’s liveability.

How was the Destination Harvey Business Unit developed?

In addition to extensive consultation and strategic advice, the Shire developed a comprehensive Feasibility Study (August 2021) that considered the sustainability of bringing tourism in-house or an alternative solution that would provide improved outcomes for the local visitor economy.

The Study reviewed more than 26 tourism models across Australia and further afield, plus it presented more than 40 different options for tourism delivery.

It presented an objective analysis for change and provided Councillors with a range of options to allow for an informed decision on the most viable solution, which would meet visitor needs and achieve a better return on investment (ROI).

What is the Harvey Region Tourism Strategic Report 2021?

After six months of consultation and research, in June, We Are Best delivered the Harvey Region Tourism Strategic Report 2021 as an informing document for Council.

The Strategic Report focused on “larger, more structural narrative shifts that seek to deliver the most change”, and contained the following key recommendations for the Shire of Harvey and the Harvey Region:

  • Be brave, proud, open, active, simple and connected.
  • Be visitor-centric and engage visitors at every stage of the decision-making journey.
  • Close the Harvey and Australind Visitor Centres and conduct a feasibility study into the establishment of an in-house tourism unit.
  • Review destination marketing with a focus on digital tactics, building and promoting agri-tourism and eco-tourism experiences, and a 90-minute Perth, 90-minute Margaret River brand message.
  • Target those that most desire what you have to offer.
  • Gear up to appear attractive for the private sector to invest with a stand-alone Shire Tourism Development Application process.
  • Prepare a detailed Tourism Investment Prospectus to attract government and private investment in tourism infrastructure, in particular market-leading accommodation and food and beverage (F+B) experiences.
  • Review recommended corridors for tourism development.
  • Create tourism attraction magnets that create PR and chatter.
  • Within the Shire, recognise that tourism is not a silo concept.
  • Seek funding and grant opportunities.
  • Build capability, capacity and, above all, be sustainable in the long term.
  • Consider Visitor Pods at the Harvey Dam and Binningup Foreshore.
  • Immediately upgrade signage and create cross-axis (east-west) travel journeys. Use Main Roads or National Tourism Signage wherever possible, in particular on main arterials.
  • Establish one to three major events a year, such as:
    • A major food festival and restaurant pop-ups with leading chefs.
    • A large-scale music and F+B event like A Day on the Green.
    • State-based sporting competitions.
    • A swimming or related event between Myalup and Binningup.
    • Trail events.
  • Support wedding and group event development.

As mentioned above, the Shire is currently reviewing the recommendations of the Strategic Report, with the Harvey Region Tourism Implementation Plan scheduled for release in late December 2021.

Will the Harvey Districts Tourist Bureau Inc. cease to operate?

Yes, the Harvey Districts Tourist Bureau Inc. (HDTB) has recently informed the Shire it will cease to operate as an incorporated body.

It has already ceased operating from Henton Cottage in Australind and will officially close the Harvey Visitor Centre on 30 November 2021.

As it is an incorporated body, independent from the Shire, it is the best contact them directly in regards to its operation.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to current and past Board members, staff and volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the Harvey Region.

What are the current trends with visitor centres?

The current tourism model was established decades ago, when people made travel decisions very differently. Over the past 10 years, visitor centre use for accommodation and travel bookings has rapidly declined.

Depending on the demographic, less than 18 per cent of visitors use a visitor centre. In the Western Australian market, which pre-COVID equated to nearly 90 per cent of Harvey Region visitors, less than four per cent used a visitor centre.

Across Australia and world-wide, numerous visitor centres are closing permanently as tourism associations and local governments focus on better meeting visitor needs.

Locally, the Strategic Report identified that despite friendly and enthusiastic staff, our visitor centres were not changing visitor patterns and urged the Shire to refocus tourism funding to destination marketing, signage, and investment attraction.

As the visitor economy grows and tourism infrastructure expands, the Shire is committed to monitoring and adapting to core visitor needs. For instance, there may be a long-term future need for face-to-face visitor servicing at a new Harvey Region major attraction or point of interest.

What will happen with the existing visitor centre building?

The HDTB has a lease contract with the Shire until the 31 March 2022.

Noting the building’s prominent location, once the lease term has expired, the consideration is to call for an Expression of Interest process for a temporary/pop-up retail business or an alternative, suitable building use option.

To clearly direct visitors Shire Officers will:

  • Work with Main Roads to install new National Tourism accredited signage for the Stirling Gardens Precinct.
  • Remove and replace unrequired signage on the Visitor Centre building and within the Stirling Gardens Precinct.
  • Replace the out-of-date Eden Grove signage with new promotional signage for Stirling Gardens and the Stirling Cottage Kitchen.

Outdoor brochure holders will be installed on the building to provide visitors with Harvey Region Visitor Maps and the Bunbury Geographe magazine.

Long-term, building use and tourism development will be reviewed as part of an Internment Camp and Stirling Garden Precinct Master Plan, including:

  • Stirling Cottage
  • May Gibbs
  • Gibbs Pool
  • Harvey River Settlement and Governor Stirling
  • Harvey Internment Camp site
  • Harvey Internment Camp Memorial Shrine
  • Old Goal
  • Harvey River Walk/Kaartdijin’ Biddee Trail
  • Harvey Trails and Adventure Precinct
  • Harvey Dam
  • Harvey Water and irrigation history
  • Facilities and services, such as improved parking and amenities.
How do I access the disabled and parenting facilities located in the Visitor Centre building?

The existing disabled and parenting toilet facilities will be open daily and maintained by the Shire ensuring the availability to visitors and the community is maintained.

What is happening with the May Gibbs Collection?

Despite requests to have this display relocated out of the Shire, we are pleased to confirm the May Gibbs Collection will remain within Harvey.

Representatives from Harvey History Online have been working with HDTB to catalogue the contents of the Collection.

In the short term, the Shire will create a smaller May Gibbs display within the Harvey Library with the remaining components placed in storage until a suitable display option is secured. 

The May Gibbs Collection and Gibbs family story, and its tourism potential, will be considered in an Internment Camp and Stirling Gardens Precinct Master Plan and the soon-to-be-release Harvey Region Tourism Road Map 2031.

Will the Stirling Cottage Kitchen remain open?

Yes, the Stirling Cottage Kitchen will remain open and operated by its current lessee.

An audit of Stirling Cottage has been undertaken and a program of building improvements is being developed.

New promotional signage will be installed for the Cottage to raise visitor awareness.

What about Stirling Gardens?

The beautiful gardens, walk trails and toilet facilities will remain open and continue to be maintained by the Shire’s Parks Services team.

To further activate this as a tourism precinct, we will remove the ‘no bike’ zone and add bike facilities to encourage riders.

Event bookings for the Stirling Gardens will be managed by Shire Officers. Facility and Venue Hire Information is available on the Shire’s website.

From the 30 November 2021, the Shire will also manage bookings for the Gibbs Pool Amphitheatre. Information will be updated on the Shire’s website imminently.

How will visitors access the Internment Camp Memorial Shrine?

The Shire is working with the custodians of the Internment Camp Memorial Shrine on options to enable visitor access. An option presently being explored is a QR code model similar to the one currently used for our RV dump points.  Clarification of the new access arrangements will be announced in coming weeks.

The Shire is willing to manage the cleaning of this site.

As noted above, the Internment Camp Memorial Shrine will be considered in the Internment Camp and Stirling Gardens Precinct Master Plan.

What is happening with the Australind Visitor Centre at Henton Cottage?

The Australind Artisan Collective has expressed an interest in maintaining visitor information within Henton Cottage.

The Shire is supportive of this option and is currently working with the Collective to allow a visitor information service to continue.

Existing signage will remain.

Can other venues offer visitor information?

Should another body or private operator wish to offer visitor information, please email.

Where can visitors get Harvey Region tourism maps and brochures?

The Shire is committed to maintaining distribution of the Harvey Region Visitor Map.

We will take over the management and payment of HDTB’s existing contract with WA visitor distribution company, Vanguard.

Taking visitor information to the visitor, we hope brochures and maps will be readily available across the entire region and within our core tourism markets, such as major points of interest, attractions, tours and cafes within Perth, Peel and South West.

As a priority, the new Tourism Development and Industry Support Officer will work with local tourism operators and professional distribution agencies on developing and disseminating Harvey Region collateral.

Local tourism and hospitality operators are encouraged to continue to distribute copies and cross promote. It is anticipated that once the Harvey Visitor Centre closes bulk copies of visitor maps and magazines will be available for collection from Shire Administration Centres.

Harvey Region Visitor Maps and the Bunbury Geographe magazine will also be available from outdoor brochure holders, including the Shire Administration Centre buildings, Shire Libraries, within the Stirling Gardens Precinct and at Henton Cottage.

In direct response to the popularity of digital services, visitor information, brochures and maps will also be available online.

Furthermore, a core deliverable of the Shire will be a staged signage and wayfinding program. In a staged roll-out, officers will implement:

  • Signage guidelines and policies;
  • National tourism directional signage;
  • Information bays;
  • Entry statements; and
  • Interpretive signage at key points of interest.

We also encourage our friendly community to welcome and assist visitors, in affect creating on-the-ground tourism ambassadors.

What about the Harvey Visitor Centre website and digital communication?

To maintain service consistency for visitors and local tourism operators, the Shire is working with HDTB to allow for the transfer of digital communication assets.

Subject to a successful transfer of digital assets, the Shire will maintain the Harvey Visitor Centre site until a new and improved site is developed by the Destination Harvey Region team.

The Shire will also continue to post on Facebook and Instagram.

The continuation of the Harvey Hum will be reviewed once the Destination Marketing Officer is appointed.

Recruitment for the position closes on Friday 26 November, with interviews planned in the following weeks.

Further marketing and communications information will also be available in the soon-to-be-released Harvey Region Tourism Road Map 2031 Implementation Plan.

How can the local tourism industry get involved?

A close connection with the local tourism industry is critical to the success of this new approach and the Shire is looking forward to working with the industry.

Importantly, by removing any membership requirements, the new Destination Harvey Region business unit will represent all local tourism operators, relevant businesses and key tourism events.

Though we will not be implementing a membership model, it’s anticipated that partnership and campaign opportunities will be created to maximise destination marketing reach.

We hope this will encourage greater industry participation and allow destination marketing to represent the Harvey Region’s entire product offering, highlighting what’s new, what’s on-trend, and who is achieving great things.

The TDIS officer and the Harvey Region Tourism Advisory Group will act as an important conduit between the Shire and the local tourism industry.  

The Tourism Advisory Group will also be responsible for running bi-annual social tourism-industry functions to foster innovative ground-up, community-driven, projects and initiatives.

Who will we be targeting?

The Destination Harvey Region business unit will initially target day-tripping and overnight visitors from Perth, South West and Peel.

In terms of tourism demographics segmentation, the Destination Marketing Officer will also focus on Discoverers, Escapers and Adventurers, plus work to continue to grow our strong Visiting Friends and Relatives market.

From a development perspective, the Shire’s Sustainable Development team will target private and government investors who can support the deliverables of the soon-to-be-released, Harvey Region Tourism Implementation Plan

What will be the Harvey Region’s key experience focus areas?
  1. Agri-tourism, F+B and local produce. 
  2. Eco, nature, adventure and outdoor-based activities. 
  3. Heritage, arts and culture.
  4. Events.
Next Steps?

The Destination Harvey Region business unit will start operating in 2022.

The Tourism Development and Industry Support and the Destination Marketing officer positions were advertised in November 2021, followed by the Destination Event Officer in May 2022. In the meantime, interested applicants may submit an expression of interest to our HR department by email.

After a recruitment process, it is anticipated that the Tourism Development and Industry Support and Destination Marketing officers will start in January/February 2022, with the Destination Event Officer beginning in July 2022.

We will also be undertaking an Expression of Interest process for the Harvey Region Tourism Advisory Group.

As mentioned above, the Harvey Region Tourism Road Map 2031 Implementation Plan will be presented to Council in December for public release early next year.