Friday, 18 November 2016

NEW ZEALAND: Free Wi-Fi To Lure Tourists To The Sunshine State

An LNP state government would use free Wi-Fi to lure tourists to the Sunshine State in a move the Labor government said was a direct rip-off of a Brisbane City Council program.

Announcing the policy in Cairns on Thursday, Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said if elected, the LNP would provide funding for 500 Wi-Fi hotspots so tourists could brag to their mates back home about their Queensland holiday.

The LNP would commit $3 million over three years to the program to install Wi-Fi hotspots at key tourism destinations across the state "so tourists can easily connect to the internet", Mr Nicholls said.

"Tourism organisations will be asked to develop a digital and social media marketing campaign to encourage tourists to use the Wi-Fi hotspots to spread the word to the world," Mr Nicholls said.

The Wi-Fi hotspots would be established through grants to councils which would be responsible for setting up the network.

Mr Nicholls said Queensland had an amazing range of unique natural and man-made tourism assets.

"A recent example of this was a post about the Cardwell natural spa pools which was shared on social media more than 7300 times and seen by more than 130,000 people," he said.

Opposition tourism spokesman Jon Krause said the sector had gone backwards over the past two years.

But acting Tourism Minister Grace Grace has accused the LNP of rehashing a Brisbane City Council idea and questioned Mr Nicholls' maths.

"He's using a cut price version of Brisbane City Council's policy," Ms Grace said.

"Even the terms and conditions are identical to BCC's terms and conditions, word for word.

"Not only did he choose to announce the ill-thought-out plan at Cairns Esplanade where there is already free Wi-Fi, he's seriously fudged the numbers."

Ms Grace said the council's plan committed $2 million for 20 parks at $100,000 per hotspot, while Mr Nicholls committed $3 million for 500 hotspots at $6000 each.

Ms Grace said tourism was booming in Queensland despite the LNP's claims.

But the council has hit back at Ms Grace's comments, saying her claims were incorrect.

A council spokesman said it delivered 250 free wireless access points in the CBD, South Bank, Fortitude Valley, James St and Caxton St, as well as 22 parks within the $1.1 million budget allocated in 15/16.

"That equates to an average of around $4000 for one hotspot, not $100,000 as claimed," the council spokesman said.

The announcement comes after recent accusations from Labor that the LNP and Mr Nicholls were not developing and releasing policies.

Last month, Treasurer Curtis Pitt accused Mr Nicholls of being "too lazy to develop anything resembling an economic policy let alone a comprehensive economic plan".

Local Government Association of Queensland president Mark Jamieson said the LNP's pledge would help ensure the tourism industry had the right tools available to attract visitors.

"This announcements could lead to tourist operators and other local businesses using Wi-Fi to attract visitors to new opportunities, like receiving advice that seats have just become available at a local show and at a reduced rate," he said.

"Councils could also use Wi-Fi infrastructure to better inform tourists and local residents about other community announcements such as road condition warnings or storms."