GREAT EXPERIENCE: Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association delegates with the Murri Rangers in the Bunya Mountains.
GREAT EXPERIENCE: Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association delegates with the Murri Rangers in the Bunya Mountains. Frank Antoine

Sharing tourism secrets with colleagues across the world

INTERNATIONAL visitors will bring back South Burnett's tourism practices to their own industry after visiting rural Queensland's top destinations.

Canadian business delegates soaked up South Burnett's finest tourism on offer over the weekend in a cross-cultural venture.

South Queensland Country Tourism hosted delegates from Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) to exchange business ideas.

Canada's similar tourism industry provided a unique learning opportunity for the delegates to glean from Australia's small country business owners, said Southern Queensland Country Tourism CEO, Mary-Clare Power.

Delegates learnt the success secrets of the recreational rail trail and got a taste of South Burnett's wineries and famous Peanut Van, before being treated to a night's stay in the Bunya Mountains.

They will spend eight days travelling around Queensland, experiencing indigenous and business perspectives across the Bunya mountains, Stanthorpe and Brisbane.

TOTA delegate Mike Overend said the rail trail was a great learning experience because of the similar work he does in his home town in the Kelowna region, interior British Colombia.

"To join 25 communities together, in terms of signage and infrastructure is a great lesson for us,” he said.

Mr Overend said his largest takeaway from the visit was the small business perspective.

"What people are doing over here is very similar to home, one business to another,” he said.

The tourism industry has world-wide opportunities to collaborate, since small businesses are similar around the world in how they work, Mr Overend said.

Southern Queensland Country Tourism established a relationship four years ago with TOTA and has since been sharing tourism knowledge.

"We have enjoyed a very fruitful partnership over the past four years with TOTA and many of our members have benefited from the shared experience of their membership and vice-versa,” said Ms Power.

Mr Overend said the companies identified similar successes and struggles across the two countries within the tourism industry, and are already seeing results from implementing strategies from sharing tourism knowledge.

"The learning that's come out of it is phenomenal,” said Mr Overend.

The companies will continue to host each other and share tourism strategies to strengthen their industries over the following years.

A forum was held on Monday at the Toowoomba University of Southern Queensland Campus with TOTA CEO Glenn Mandziuk as a keynote speaker, with a focus on boosting rural tourism.

He discussed observations about the challenges and opportunities he has faced in his region and how to practically apply strategies to Australian small businesses.

Mr Overend said he enjoyed his stay and will certainly be back to visit.

"It (South Burnett) is an exceptionally beautiful place... and the people have been very friendly and hospitable,” Mr Overend said.

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