Council candidates respond on what they will do to improve Oberon's tourism

The Oberon Review polled its readers on the issues they consider most important in the community for the upcoming local council elections on December 4.

This week, we look at tourism. An email was sent to each candidate on Monday, November 8 asking for their response.

Candidates Neil Francis and Sig Sovik didn't respond by the required deadline.

Andrew McKibbin

Andrew McKibbin.

Andrew McKibbin.

Tourism generates income and employment for the Oberon Community and the area's natural beauty and landscape leads itself to being a tourist destination of choice. I have worked with Council to have the Spartan event held in Oberon and I am on the Oberon Streetscape committee for beautifying Oberon and its villages.

Council obtained a Government grant for new signs in Oberon and Villages. I proposed that the consultant used by Orange Council for its Master Plan for its streets be used by Oberon to provide an overarching plan for the Oberon Street planting to be implemented over future Council terms. That work is currently being done and I am on the Subcommittee with Brenda Lyon liaising with the consultant.

Mayfield Garden is a huge tourist attraction as is Jenolan Caves (when it can be accessed). Mat Webb, our Business and Tourism Officer, and our visitor information centre staff organise a range of events that promote Oberon and bring people to Oberon and I will continue to support them in that pursuit.

Helen Hayden

Helen Hayden.

Helen Hayden.

Oberon is a farming and forestry community, it really has never relied solely upon the tourism industry, although more recent trends in society in general is towards tourism. I think Oberon does tourism well, we have Jenolan Caves, Mayfield Gardens, the numerous pine forests and national parks, The MX track, mushrooming, wineries, function centres and the like.

I would like to concentrate my efforts to being more inclusive in regards to our tourism for disability, hearing and sight impaired. Our facilities especially open and close times, such as public toilets, being open longer or remain open with CCTV camera installation. More consultation with locals and farmers especially during winter months and snowfall which is a major attraction for many, perhaps work with land owners for access for snow seekers, encourage more overnight visitors. I would like to see our festivals back up and running, like the Daffodil festival and bed races. Some music festivals and lake activities, fish-athons and the like. Equestrian events such as cross country.

Ian Tucker

Ian Tucker.

Ian Tucker.

Tourism is obviously an important part of Oberon's economy. However it is not my area of expertise and experience, and I won't try to pretend that it is. As a Councillor I will be relying on expert advice on the best ways to support this sector.

Council's most obvious direct contribution to the tourism sector is of course its award-winning Visitor Information Centre. I'm sure Council will continue to support this.

Of course, visitors don't come to Oberon to visit the VIC, but to enjoy its natural attractions - its National Parks, forests, caves, fishing, fossicking, mushrooming, etc. I see Council's role as enhancing the visitor experience by providing good, safe, well-maintained roads and visitor facilities.

For approximately 16 years I served on the National Parks Advisory Committee for the Blue Mountains Region, which is made up of volunteer members from various community interest groups.

A sub-committee, of which I was also a member, worked on the Jenolan Caves Plan of Management. We supported the proposal to construct a cable car down to the caves. This would relieve pressure on the 5-mile road and Grand Arch precinct, and add another exciting aspect to a visit to Jenolan.

While this is a medium or long term project and would need to be government funded, I hope Council will offer its support to this project and other worthy tourism ventures.

Bruce Watt

Bruce Watt.

Bruce Watt.

I understand that tourism is third only to agriculture and forestry in importance to the economy of the Oberon LGA. Oberon and environs are already an attractive and popular tourist destination but we have great potential for expansion due to our diverse and attractive landscape and our proximity to Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Tourism is beneficial not only because it brings revenue and employment to many small and larger businesses in the LGA but Council and community efforts designed to attract tourists are also likely to make Oberon and the surrounding community more attractive and better resourced for the benefit of residents as well.

I therefore strongly support Oberon Council's efforts in beautifying both Oberon and the villages including O'Connell, Edith, Burraga and Black Springs. I would also support Council initiatives to facilitate new and existing tourist ventures in the LGA.

Lauren Trembath

Lauren Trembath.

Lauren Trembath.

Tourism is an important part of our LGA and contributes significantly to the economy of our community and I feel there is an opportunity to grow this further. We have our forests for walking, our rural beauty, our heritage, our caves, local eateries, local produce, vineyards, brewers, unique villages, our rivers for trout fishing and our unique climate and location to offer.

I believe the Council and the Oberon Business and Tourism Association (OBTR) should continue to maintain and build on local events that attract visitors along with targeted promotion to external bodies of the first-class facilities that we can offer for exhibitions, events, sport, and media.

To make Oberon a destination for both visitors and our surrounding Villages and build on the economic benefits, I would like to see Council actively encourage and support the local businesses, investors and entrepreneurs wanting to create tourism ventures that will bring more visitors to Oberon throughout the year.

In 2022 it should be a key focus to review the Council Tourism Strategy to rebuild quickly after the COVID closures and to ensure Oberon is a key destination, capitalising on the pent-up demand of Australians wanting to explore their own backyard and the trend and desire to 'shop local'.

Katie Graham

Katie Graham.

Katie Graham.

Tourism is an important part of Oberon's economy. It brings money, skills and a range of jobs into our local community and broadens opportunities, resources and activities available in the region. The development of tourism needs to part of the overall long-term development plan for the region and as such should not be dealt with in isolation.

The aspects of our environment that attract tourists should be improved in a sustainable manner. The appointment of the Tourism and Economic Development Manager by the council has been a positive move and I strongly support this initiative. Activities and events including Spartan, outdoor weekend, fossicking, mushrooming, fishing and camping are widely promoted in metropolitan and regional areas through a variety of media, bringing an increasing number of visitors to the area.

Mark Kellam

Mark Kellam.

Mark Kellam.

One role of our Council is to attract tourism in the interests of town businesses and residents, partnering with the Oberon Business and Tourism Association.

Elected to the next Council, I would work hard to support the recovery of Jenolan Caves as a major tourism attraction and continue our productive relationship with Mayfield Gardens. I will also drive the construction of two funded Mountain Bike Trails, providing a great attraction for day trip and weekend mountain bikers.

As a Councillor I will continue to strongly support staff at the Visitor Information Centre. They create innovative programs (such as the Redfin Roundup and Oberon Outdoor Festival), highlight visitor and resident activity options, and focus interest on our town.

A vibrant tourism and visitor economy is important for several reasons. Traditional forestry and related industries will continue, but future technology will likely change the type, mix and number of jobs available. The visitor economy can and will provide many different direct and indirect employment opportunities for our resident workforce. Diverse employment opportunities are crucial to our local economy.

The end of covid regulations will result in increased visitor demand, providing many local business opportunities. The private investment in function centres and related operations over the last five years, demonstrates increased visitor interest in our district, to Oberon's economic benefit. I will carefully oversee applications for tourism developments to help realise the potential of our economy, but also demand that there is no unreasonable impact on our social or natural environment.

Mick McKechnie

Mick McKechnie.

Mick McKechnie.

Tourism being in the top 5 industries in NSW is vitally important to small Towns such as Oberon. Encouraging sustainable Tourism initiatives can create employment and grow the Local economy. A single tourism event or attraction can have up to 60 per cent visitors included in total attendance, this generates 200 plus overnight stays and a conservative $50k plus spend in local businesses. We should look to have calendar of events appealing to a cross section of potential visitors.

Involving our school students in producing promotions like virtual tours of our local attractions and events. Increasing our Tourism profile on social media and online platforms is essential to showcase our National Parks, World Heritage Areas, Historic Villages & Buildings and recreational activities and facilities.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions 2021/22 is the time for running campaigns such as "we want you back". Improving telecommunication services and coverage in the LGA is an area we need to prioritise.

Gregory Bourne 

Gregory Bourne.

Gregory Bourne.

I am currently the President of Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway and I will continue to work hard to ensure that the short term goal - Tourist Train from Oberon to Hazelgrove goes ahead. OTHR also maintains Heritage Rolling stock as well as maintaining the station precinct. There is a great of deal interest in heritage rail.

I am more aware than most of the importance of tourism. At the same time there are other tourist attractions both large and small either natural or manufactured. They all need the same time and effort to promote them and I will do this as part of the council driven Oberon Visitor Information Centre.

Tourism is a priority for Oberon. It brings proven financial benefits to individual businesses, the community and in turn creates major employment.

If elected to council I will be part of the Council team that oversees and promotes tourism at every opportunity.

Margaret Kilby

Margaret Kilby.

Margaret Kilby.

As an elected Councilor I would work with the team of councillors to improve on the tourism, infrastructure, entertainment and housing as all these areas are important to our community.

I feel my priority is more focused on how we can improve on how to bring the Oberon LGA community's spirit back pre-COVID. The past two years have taken a toll on everyone mentality, emotionally and physically. The young, the elderly and all those in between. I feel we all need to get together so we can give the support which is needed. Being apart of the Councilor team we can apply for funding and ideas needed to help unit us as a community.

Clive McCarthy

Clive McCarthy.

Clive McCarthy.

I would like to keep short, simple and straight to the point. If re-elected on Council, my belief in relation to what I will do for local tourism, is to look after the locals first and good road, network and tourism will follow.