Ceduna Business & Tourism Association

Friday night I attended a CBTA meeting at the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel. Not being a member myself I snuck up the back and found a chair and a window sill for a makeshift office and sat down by myself ready to be informed about the CBTA. I have heard of the CBTA but as far as what it was that they did … ?

Greg Limbert, who I believe is the President of the CBTA, began the evening by ticking several of my query boxes right off the bat. He explained how the CBTA, in one form or another, had been in the local area for more than 25 years and that some of their current activities and involvements include:

The Annual Oysterfest
Festival Friday
Town Maps
The Ceduna Brochure
The Business and Employee Awards

And that about $40’000 / year was invested into marketing and promoting the local area and admitted that their current focus was tourism heavy and that some balancing could be done in that regard.

At this point I knew that I was in the right room and the night was going to offer the answers I was hoping for.

Phill Stevens (Phill Stevens & Associates) spoke next about membership numbers being lower than they would like and down from previous years. He stated that the $220 membership fees were needed for funding, along with input from District Council of Ceduna, stakeholders, Regional Development Australia, Government and Business SA.

Mr. Stevens reiterated the benefits to the members in the room as being a value laden return on investment for the $220 membership fee. Business networking and promotion throughout the CBTA members and the CBTA email list subscribers, for example. “Ultimately, we wish everyone was a member!” Phill stated.

New member of the CBTA and relatively new to town, Melissa Kett spoke next and told of her lead up to moving to Ceduna in March 2016, her reasons for joining the CBTA in August last year and her passion for being a CBTA member.

Melissa explained that she had travelled through Ceduna on multiple occasions and didn’t really think that there was much here and that it was only after having to stay here while vehicle repairs were completed that she fully got to appreciate the helpful businesses, great community, interesting locations and awesome seafood the area offers.

Suddenly; I found myself madly jotting ‘notes to self’ as several take home ideas came to mind that were inspired by Melissa’s experience. Her narrow initial impression of the local area, even though she was actually here travelling through it, and considering that it was as recent as last year, all had bells dinging left-right-and-centre in my mind. For example, the need for large picturesque billboards lining the in-roads and out-roads promoting what’s here that you would never realise just driving through the heavy vehicle bypass or the centre of town.

Big billboards, unmissable and awesome enough to make me feel like I was actually missing something I had come sooo close to. A picture of dolphins so big and beautiful I felt ‘this close’ to being able to jump right in and go swimming with them. Right there on the highway. That’s paradise after hours of travelling. Now I feel like I’ve missed out! You bet if I can’t stop this time, I WILL put it in my itinerary on the way back / next time through. If for no other reason than the kids won’t stop nagging about it or the wife keeps mentioning how romantic that beautiful Ceduna sunset looked in the picture etc. etc. Or at least leave knowing something that the area has to offer – another walking billboard created. So many opportunities to change mindsets –  and that’s just ONE idea Melissa sparked for me.

How much do we miss letting this slip through? Every single re-educated person is another walking/talking billboard for us throughout Australia / the world. By not doing this are we reaffirming the mis-education, the preconceptions of the area by travellers-through only seeing the main street / foreshore / daylight / mangrove lined shores?

Make no mistake these travellers talk to other travellers at stops along the way, they have their networks too and they check-in and ask for recommendations and offer feedback constantly – can you even imagine what that mathematics sum looks like? When you consider that each snippet of information is then carried along the line and shared over and over again. That is why we MUST have excellent customer service, excellent coffee, food that looks bloody good on a plate – Blog ready! Instagram ready! Because make no mistake, what you do travels and that’s a whole lot of second chances you don’t get – or you do!

I recently spoke to someone who had come through every year for 25 years. He absolutely loved to stop at a certain business for the same dish everytime. On this occasion he had a new companion with him. He had talked this business and that dish up all the way from WA but when I talked to them they had just left from this lunch and were sorely disappointed.  Not only will he not be back to that business but he will be talking about that to people all the way to Phillip Island and back to Perth and for the next year until, probably some other Ceduna business, gets to leave a positive memory. Oh dear!!

Anyhooz … you get the point! I was alight with ideas and jotting madly of street art that puts the visitor in a ‘must do when in Ceduna’, ‘centre stage’, ‘artistic, or funny OR BOTH IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS area promoting, Instagram ready’ concept such as something my granddaughter did in Port Lincoln for her blog here. (The wings are actually names of local beaches). Ahh my pen nearly snapped! I scribbled as fast as I could so I wouldn’t forget them before I got home and I will spare you any more of my ranting, sorry :/

Incidentally; Melissa also mentioned that she had spoke to members of the local community and asked them to name 3 things that the CBTA does. This experiment yielded very poor results and I wonder if this was a factor in the low membership yet, I remembered Phil Stevens mentioned that numbers are down from previous numbers – which means losing memberships.

I wondered if this was due to the strong focus on the ‘tourism’ part in the CBTA name and I looked back and counted the times I had jotted this next to my notes and I scanned the room in curiosity of the number of members who were present and in the accommodation / tourism industries, because it is usual that people will do what they know. Hmm I thought, not particularly conclusive, but as I think about if I would become a member I am looking for why membership is down. I wonder when the last membership price increase was and quickly finish up my scribbling as the next speaker is announced.

Colleen Holmes (SA Premium Oysters) spoke for both herself and her husband Jeff as she retraced their journey into the CBTA and the following benefits that they had experienced for their business. She highlighted the many years of business experience in the local area that could be accessed through the networking of members and expressed both her and Jeff’s gratitude for this valuable support. Colleen expressed appreciation to Greg Limbert, Sonya Coleman and Phil Stevens directly and shared with the room the speed and extent of the benefits they experienced through the combined knowledge of these members upon joining the CBTA. Detailed examples were presented as were the results their business had seen.

Colleen praised the talents of local business woman Janet Gregor of Ceduna Signs for her artistic initiative and intuition and closed by attributing their confidence in business to the support of the CBTA.

At this point I was like … sign me up! I tend to have massive ideas hit me like bricks and I work all the time, but confidence to do anything with that or asking to be paid for it, meh! I really suck at that and to quote Meg Ryan “I’ll have what she’s having!” lol

Lynton Brown (Ceduna Shelly Beach Caravan Park) spoke next about Festival Friday – a seafood and tasting giveaway event that has marked the start of the Oysterfest since 2002. I’d never heard of it! I thought the Oysterfest dinner opened the event?!

Mr. Brown initiated discussion about the amount of oysters that are opened and cooked throughout the Oysterfest weekend and it was decided that numbers had gone from about 800 dozen in the first Oysterfest to about 1’900 dozen at the last. (I think) An astonishing effort regardless of specific numbers.

Lynton continued on to praise the Sundowner events which are held for new or newly refurbished businesses as a social event where you can have a drink and a bite to eat and a stickybeak. A kind of house warming for business. He also praised the Ceduna Crab Competition and the tireless support, time and work that Sonya Coleman has volunteered to the competition.

And again I am ever more informed about what the CBTA does.

Annette Plane was introduced next to present a new informational website that the CBTA had been working on and funded in partnership with the Ceduna District Council. This website was to be launched at the meeting but wasn’t quite ready to be published, however Annette showed the room through the site as best she could from the admin preview area and said she hoped the site would be live on Monday.

Annette explained that the site will contain a business directory, which is an online version of the CBTAs previously printed directory, a resource which they have been compiling for the area for some years I believe. It will also offer tourist information, an events calendar and a range of spectacular images, further example of the CBTA moving towards the needs of their target market in 2017 and beyond.

The website was championed by their younger members it seems, albeit still strongly focused on tourism and sporting the domain name of ‘ceduna tourism’.

After inspection of the code I feel a little queasy for the second time this week as I weigh up a price paid for a website (that local businesses are listed in and in some cases paying to do so) against what I am doing for free on the same medium.

Perhaps I could use some of that CBTA confidence that Colleen Holmes spoke of earlier about now! But being that this new website provides me with a handy link for my website, which will increase their SEO a little and allow me to keep my website (which is a tool for my other efforts) strictly within my USP – it’s a win-win, and should the CBTA ever want to balance their business/tourism focus ratio – I know someone who could use some funding 😉

How’s that for shameless self-promotion? I guess I’m learning after all 😉 haha

Guest Speakers 

Grant Drummond (General Manager Operations – District Council of Ceduna) gave a presentation on the new Thevenard Marine Offloading Facility, which has been in discussion for 16 years – first with the CBTA and then the last 12 years with the council. Mr. Drummond promoted the facility as a great economic driver for the area.

Mr. Drummond said the construction phase, from October 2017 to August 2018, would see the council give major consideration to providing local opportunities. And upon completion would allow local fishing and charters the ability to upscale their operations in addition to the facilities other purposes.

Ben Taylor (Manager Finance & Administration – District Council of Ceduna) reaffirmed the new facility as an investment to create an economic driver for the community. He assured that the loan to fund the Thevenard facility was something that the facility itself could repay without the ratepayers involvement.

Peter Treloar (Member for Flinders) briefly highlighted the support that was available to a group like the CBTA before introducing the final guest speaker.

David Ridgeway (Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Development, and Tourism) spoke briefly about his role and its alignment with much of what had been mentioned in the meeting before taking some prickly questioning on the lack of recent investment at the Head of The Bight. I couldn’t hear well enough or write quick enough at this point so I put my pen down.

Yes it is a long blog – it was a long meeting and yet it seemed to go quickly for the most part.

If you’ve made it this far – well done! I hope I have informed you about what the CBTA does, if you didn’t know before, and perhaps even sparked your interest in a membership?! I would like to thank the CBTA for allowing me along to their event, I found it very informative and inspirational.

This is a blog. I am not a professional writer. These are my observations. Please feel free to suggest edits, offer contributions or contact about blogging your own local interest.


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