Q&A

JAMES SHEARER
CEO
BLUE MOUNTAINS, LITHGOW & OBERON TOURISM

Tell us about your career before joining Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism.
Most of my career has been spent in tourism. I started out working in hotels before moving onto general manager and CEO roles with international hotel groups. More recently I spent four years with BIG4 Holiday Parks based in Melbourne.

What are in the bureau’s future plans for increasing business tourism?
In the short-term we are becoming more involved in the meetings and conference market and joining Business Events Sydney. Over the mid to long-term we are introducing systems that will make it easier for conference organisers to do business in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region.

What do you hope to achieve in your new position?
The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region already has huge awareness – 63 per cent of the state’s residents and 32 per cent of interstate residents have a high to very high awareness of the region, a fantastic figure which I’m sure other regional tourism operators envy. Over the next few years we aim to focus our messaging on reasons to convert that awareness into increased visitation. We want visitors to realise just how many experiences and just how diverse this region is, and to stay for a night (or three).

From your opinion, what elements make the Blue Mountains a good destination for the MICE industry?
Well, there’s the one million square hectares of UNESCO World Heritage Area for a start. Within that Greater Blue Mountains National Park World Heritage Area, the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region is an ideal destination for the MICE industry with its range of venues, activities and proximity to Sydney. The upper Blue Mountains is only 100 kilometres or one-and-a-half hours’ drive from Sydney and the airport, making it easy for delegates to get to. The heritage of the built and natural landscape makes it a region that is, as our slogan states, “easy to get to and impossible to forget”.

Is there any field or industry you think the region best caters to?
While there are larger venues that provide excellent facilities for up to 850 delegates, the region is ideally suited for overnight getaways for up to 50 people. The range of unique venues, along with the nature-based team-building activities and dining options provide a welcome change to inner city venues.