Questions asked about benefits of an expensive tourism campaign

DID Cooma-Monaro Shire Council get 'bang for its buck' from the major advertising campaign promoting the region to which it contributed $10,000?

That was the question that confronted council on Monday.

A post analysis of the Tourism Snowy Mountains (TSM) 365 Destination $130,000 advertising campaign was presented to council.

The campaign ran for 12 weeks between March and May and was funded by Cooma-Monaro, Snowy River, Tumut and Tumbarumba Shires as well as private sector supporters.

The theme of six commercials included fishing and water sports, horse riding and brumbies, mountain biking, the wilderness and bush walking, food and beverage and the region's winter playground.

Each advertisement was supported by imagery and locals telling their story.

The results of the campaign were met with some criticism.

Councillor Martin Hughes slammed the accommodation booking figures in Cooma, which were down across all three months of the campaign.

He said Cooma's figures were "appalling" in comparison to other shires in the region and this pointed to the campaign not working for Cooma.

While there were positive figures for the Cooma Visitor Information Centre traffic with 4.7 per cent growth over the March to May period, it dropped off 5 per cent in April compared to 2012.

Cr Hughes asked the question - whether council got 'bang for its buck?'

There were some more positive figures to come from the campaign for Cooma such as a spike of 128 per cent in unique visitors to the Visit Cooma website in May. In April unique visits grew by 82 per cent.

There were also an additional 1,372 vehicles that entered Kosciusko National Park over the three months.

Deputy mayor Bronnie Taylor suggested that while accommodation occupancy may be down it did not mean the shire had not benefited.

"They may not be staying here, but they are spending here. Look at vehicle traffic. You can just base it on room rates. It doesn't mean the town is not benefiting," she said.

Cr Angela Ingram said her issue with the advertisements was the lack of focus on Cooma and the Monaro.

Council's Director of Corporate Services Stephen Molloy pointed out that TSM's job wasn't to market individual shires, but rather to market the region.

He said council was looking at a "revamp" of the visitors website, which would help drive website traffic and attract visitors to town.

Across the 12 week campaign period, 3,549, 30 second ad spots were telecast in Albury, Canberra, Far South Coast, Orange, Newcastle, Wollongong, Tamworth, and Wagga Wagga. It is estimated more than 85 per cent of the target market was reached at least once, and on average, 18.5 times.

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