Towong Shire makes pitch for more hunters with tourism plan

A HUNTING celebration, to be marked by fireworks and family entertainment, has been proposed to draw tourists to Towong Shire.

The council wants to up income from deer hunting with just $1.5 million spent annually compared to other bush shires such as Gippsland’s Wellington ($9 million) and Mansfield ($7.5 million).

The shire’s economic development manager Lauren Elvin noted in her draft tourism action plan Upper Murray residents have “flagged a desire to embrace its hunting heritage” for tourism.

“Recreational hunting is still an activity that is not seen in a positive light by large segments of society, which can make it difficult for hunters looking for destinations to enjoy their sport,” Ms Elvin reported.

“However, Towong Shire is a community that is very supportive of the activity.

“It is a rural community with strong agricultural ties, where hunting is part of everyday life and therefore socially acceptable.”

Ms Elvin recommended a tourism-driven event to herald hunting season opening.

She saw it having a free barbecue, promotion stands, musical renditions, family entertainment and fireworks.

The plan, which is now subject to public feedback, also stressed the need for more promotion.

“Marketing efforts should focus on the Victorian market, ideally encompassing Melbourne where there is already a very competitive market,” Ms Elvin wrote.

“There must also be consideration for activities targeting close regional centres, like Albury-Wodonga, where travel time is not an inhibitor to visitation.”

Ms Elvin also addressed land access and the potential for a fee pass system to enter private properties.

“This could be an annual pass that provides access to all listed properties, with the revenue split equally between the associated landholder networks,” she proposed.

Other aspects covered in the report include guides and their accreditation, the development of game meat processing and funding avenues including developing ties with big hunting brands.

It is recommended a hunting tourism working group fosters the plan’s aims.