Issue #12 November 2009

In This Issue

  1. Our 2009 awards
  2. 10 Years After
  3. Balfour Consulting on two new panels
  4. Townsville - a tourist destination?
  5. Can we help you?

Our 2009 Awards

Balfour Consulting is proud to announce that we have won a State Award for Excellence in community consultation from the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) and the overall Excellence Award for community engagement from Engineers Australia (Qld) for work undertaken on the Ring Road in partnership with Main Roads, Thiess and AECOM.

We then went on to win a Highly Commended at the PRIA national Golden Target Awards, up against some of the largest PR and community consultation firms in Australia. The national Engineers Excellence awards will not be announced until later this month.

This is the third time in five years Balfour Consulting has won a PRIA State award followed by Highly Commended at the Golden Target Awards, highlighting our consistent quality performance.

Our company has now won 19 awards over 10 years, either directly or in partnership with our clients or suppliers. These awards have covered categories including community consultation, comprehensive communications, tourism, business development, engineering, local government, regional development, museums and advertising. Research indicates that Balfour Consulting is the only communications, community consultation and strategic planning consultants in regional Australia to have achieved this consistent level of peer group recognition.

The question remains - why do some businesses, community organisations and local governments in northern Queensland go to Brisbane and beyond for consulting services, incurring much higher costs for the privilege, when excellence exists on their doorstep?

"The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying." - David Ogilvy

10 Years After

No, we have never had the furious fingers of Alvin Lee on staff, but we have made it through 10 interesting (crazy, exhilarating, fun, challenging, stressed out, rewarding, etc) years in Townsville as of October 2009. And let's keep in mind that the company itself has been going for 22 years, having started in Melbourne in 1989 before opening an office in Sydney in 1995.

Balfour Consulting on two new panels

Jobs Assist Business Support

Balfour Consultant has been selected as a Jobs Assist Business Support consultant with an interesting new program developed by the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. The program provides support of up to $8,000 to businesses with 10 or more FTEs to help them obtain consultant input through a two-stage process. This process first involves an in-depth assessment of the business focused on skills analysis and approval, development of management monitoring and reporting processes and the development of a prioritised action plan, which is then followed by a guided implementation of the action plan with consultant review and advice for further improvements. The objective of the program is to retain existing jobs and/or create new positions. If you would like advice or further information on this program, call Colin on 4771 4566.

Indigenous Employment Program

Balfour Consulting has been appointed to the Economic Development and Business Support Panel as part of the Indigenous Employment Program developed by the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. This is a national role in which Balfour Consulting will provide capacity building services and services for the development and support of individual, family, organisational or community-based businesses. We will also provide services to support the business aspirations of indigenous Australians and assist business and economic development at community and regional levels.

"It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always be right by having no ideas at all." - Edward De Bono

Townsville - a tourist destination?

Having observed and participated in the growth of the tourism industry in Australia over the past 33 years and watched the development of Townsville since 1996, I thought I should ask some questions about tourism to the Townsville region.

Is Townsville tourist destination?

With only around 7% of Gross Regional Product generated by the tourism industry, Townsville and NQ cannot be defined as "dependent to a significant extent on revenues accruing from tourism". This is the generally accepted definition of a tourist destination and based on this we are not a tourist destination to the same extent as our regional book ends, Cairns and the Whitsundays.

Should Townsville aim to be a tourist destination?

I doubt this is either achievable or desirable. Tourism is a volatile industry that is particularly vulnerable to economic downturn (unemployment in Cairns is currently around 15%) and the impact of national and international events such as terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters and the like. Individual destinations are also vulnerable to the corporate priorities of major operator/suppliers, and these may not include maintaining support for or involvement with a particular location. In a city like Townsville, with a solid and diverse economic base and a stable community that has grown from this, why would we want to become overly dependent on tourism?

Does tourism benefit Townsville?

Townsville does very well from the tourism business it attracts, which is driven by a strong and active intrastate (mainly regional) market and supported by conference, seminar and educational activities undertaken by business travellers. Intrastate holiday and Visiting Friends & Relatives (VFR) travellers, combined with total domestic business arrivals, account for 68% of our current total visitor arrivals or 683,000 visitors. Generally, business travellers use our hospitality sector during the week and regional/intrastate tourists during the weekends, delivering relatively stable markets to a city and region undergoing ongoing extended economic growth. Overall, the major tourism market mix for Townsville and NQ is 15% international, 15% interstate and 70% intrastate, which has been stable for over 5 years, but has seen an overall 10% decline in the year ended June 2009.

Is our current tourism mix sustainable?

The regional market can only grow. From Sarina north, the population of northern Queensland is projected to grow by approximately 30% over the next 21 years to over 900,000 residents. By 2031, Townsville is projected to be the largest city in the North with over 270,000 (median estimate) and possibly 300,000 residents. Because of its central location, Townsville is the economic and administrative hub for northern Queensland and the focal point for regional arts, sport and entertainment. However, it will always be challenging to market Townsville as a tropical Queensland destination to the interstate and international leisure markets when we are caught between Cairns (reef and rainforest) and the Whitsundays (Islands and beaches) and lack the attractions and resources to compete with either. I believe that to maximise international tourism arrivals we should work more closely with Tropical North Queensland to leverage off the brand success of Cairns as an international destination and inbound port. We should also try to leverage off Cairns in the interstate market as part of a regional fly-drive experience, but in doing this we should seek to clearly differentiate the Townsville brand. How should we brand Townsville? Well, just keep reading these newsletters!

I am happy to discuss or debate any of the above with anyone prepared to pay for the drinks. - Colin

(Sources: ABS, OESR, Tourism Queensland)

"Good judgement comes from experience and often experience comes from bad judgement." - Rita Mae Brown

Can we help you?

Balfour Consulting Pty Ltd has a proven track record in the following areas:

  • Strategic planning

  • Community engagement and consultation

  • Strategic management

  • Marketing & communications planning

  • Risk management

  • Feasibility planning

  • Facilitated planning workshops

  • Market and social research

  • Public relations

For further information, contact us on (07) 4771 4566 or e-mail us as at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


You have received this newsletter because you are a client or friend of Balfour Consulting Pty Ltd, or because someone we trust thought you might be interested. We will probably produce four e-newsletters per year to give you some up-to-date marketing and communications information and to let you know what has been happening as well as what we have planned. If you do not want to receive any more information, please let us know by email. We welcome your comments on the newsletter, or any other aspect of our work.

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