Outback Queensland leaders hit Brisbane to solve unsatisfactory air services and to more than double tourism value.

There will be an influx of Akubras in Brisbane this week as community and industry leaders from central western Queensland gather to build the western economy by more than 1.6 billion dollars and address air travel challenges facing the region.

The Remote Area Planning and Development Board has designed two outcomes focused forums in Brisbane this week centred on tourism and flights.

“Air travel has always been key to the development and growth of the outback,” said RAPAD Chairman Rob Chandler.

“We need regular affordable air services, and to achieve that we need the current or prospective airlines to partner with us to grow the region” he said.

On Tuesday (31 July) tourism, health, community and industry representatives will gather to develop a position on air services which will be used to develop real solutions to address the situation.

“Currently we don’t have the capacity to fully embrace the opportunities to grow international and domestic high-end tourism markets or provide affordable connection between our residents and the rest of Australia.”

“A fast, safe, affordable connection is vital, so outback people can to catch up with families and friends, grow and develop business or professional skills, engage with leisure and culture outside the region or access services just not available locally, like specialist health care,” said Councillor Chandler.

“We will muster ourselves as a region and develop a united front to meet this challenge,” he said.

On Wednesday (1 August) a separate group of regional industry leaders will join with other specialists from across the state to develop a plan to grow the tourism industry in western Queensland by 262% by 2031. 

“More and more often we see that people are looking for a genuine experience, the outback offers that.  It is a genuine experience-based product that has the potential to create a lasting connection between us and the broader Australian population and the world,” Councillor Chandler said. 

RAPADs Tourism Futures Forum will engage participants in robust discussions to explore areas of opportunity that could increase the contribution of tourism to western Queensland by 1.67 billion dollars in the next 13 years.

“Tourism is one of the shining lights on the horizon for economic development in our region.”

“The outback community’s understanding of the value of tourism to its viability has never been clearer, the current drought has left no local business in doubt about its value and potential,” he said.

 “It is one of our major economic drivers and we need to make sure we can grow it sustainably as a group, continue to attract investment and diversity or grow to attract non-traditional markets,” Councillor Chandler said.

The group will set out to identify and remove duplication of tourism spend in different council regions, identifying opportunities for data led decision making and to push forward positive actions in RAPAD’s Smart Central West Digital Strategy.