Aurukun develops tourism strategy to attract visitors to stunning Cape York region

by | Nov 3, 2014 | Uncategorized

28 October 2014

Aurukun Shire Council has developed a new tourism strategy to attract increased visitors to the stunning Cape York Peninsula region.

The council’s 2014 Aurukun Tourism Strategy and Implementation Plan identifies the untapped potential of world-class wetlands, living cultural heritage, world-class fishing, and wilderness experiences.

Under the strategy, by 2019 the community plans to have developed a greater range of tourism products for visitors, including improved accommodation and tourism attractions.

Some of the suggested potential tourism ideas for Aurukun include:

  • Camping on trust lands
  • Fishing charter operators
  • Cape York safari tours
  • Aurukun day tours
  • Development of Wik & Kugu arts centre
  • Car, bike and boat hire.

Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo said there are currently minimal tourism opportunities available for visitors to Aurukun, aside from limited fishing charters and council accommodation.

“Aurukun has historically had limited engagement with the tourism industry, and apart from fishing charters, which do not spend much time in the town, there is very little on offer,” said Mr Walpo.

“We’ve also had impediments such as poor road access for tourists, especially grey-nomad visitors.

“However, we’re determined to explore the potential of what our wonderful region can offer tourists visiting Cape York.

“There is a passion in our community to develop tourism in Aurukun, and we want to create a set of compelling tourism products to give our town an even stronger destination appeal.

“Aside from raising the profile of Aurukun, the economic outcomes of increased tourism will be beneficial for our community.”

Cape York as a whole receives around 70,000 holiday visitors every year, and a further 20,000 business visitors annually.

Mayor Walpo said significant growth is expected with the proposed sealing of the road to Weipa, and the council is keen to maximise the community’s tourism potential.

“We’re actively seeking economic development opportunities to grow the Aurukun community, which is why we commissioned the development of this tourism strategy,” he said.

“We have met with individuals, families, organisations, council representatives and potential partners to explore all avenues available.

“We have now finalised the strategy, and are looking forward to implementing it over the coming years.”

The strategy is based on seven components:

  • Product development – new tourism products, retail focus for arts centre, and business facilitation by Wuungkam Lodge managers
  • Camping and fishing regulation – in conjunction with traditional owners
  • Increased public profile – through social media, a tourism brand, signage and cultural awareness
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Infrastructure – council policies to support new business and upgrades
  • Sub-regional destination development – participation with Western Cape tourism stakeholders
  • Governance and implementation – Aurukun tourism meetings and strategy promotion.

An Implementation Plan to 2019 has been designed based around these seven components.

Mayor Walpo said the strategy had also identified a sample itinerary for a day tour to Aurukun from Weipa, including a boat tour of the inlet, a tour of the Wik & Kugu Arts Centre (with weaving demonstration), and a traditional cultural activity.

A similar itinerary could work for a multi-day Cape York safari tour, which could include camping on Aurukun trust lands in conjunction with traditional owners, and day tour and activities in Aurukun before returning to Weipa.

“Holiday visitors and tour operators are unlikely to come to Aurukun unless there is organised accommodation and activities which are marketed and promoted,” Mayor Walpo added.