Airlie Beach Main St shop owners are now eligible for financial assistance to revamp their facades.
Airlie Beach Main St shop owners are now eligible for financial assistance to revamp their facades.

Change made to give shop owners piece of funding pie

AN EXISTING policy to improve the main streets of the region's towns has been expanded to include Airlie Beach - a move that Whitsunday Regional Councillor Ron Petterson hopes will boost the look of the popular tourist spot.

Division 2 Councillor Petterson introduced the motion to include Airlie Beach Main Precinct in the Facade Improvement Policy on December 11.

He said the street had gone through major improvements including the Main Street upgrade, the addition of the Heart Hotel, the recently revamped Airlie Beach Hotel and the Airlie Beach Foreshore upgrade.

The purpose of the policy, he said, was to provide an incentive to landlords and business owners to improve their individual shopfronts.

To extend the policy - which is in place in Collinsville, Bowen and Proserpine - to include the Airlie Beach retail precinct would help revive shops and business fronts that had been looking a bit "tired", Cr Petterson said.

"Airlie Beach Hotel is looking great, council has spent nearly $8 million on the foreshore and it's looking great, but we still have shops in the precinct looking a bit worn and still suffering from effects of Cyclone Debbie.

"Some owners would like to revamp their premises but the financial aspect might be holding them back, because of what we've been through.

"This is an opportunity for council to work with shop owners and enhance the precinct, and hopefully it's an incentive to business owners to have a look and see if they can modernise, revamp or give their shopfront a fresh new look."

Cr Petterson said when he spoke with business owners at local networking nights, those who were thriving were "constantly changing and never sitting still".

"In my experience, good business is always on the move and you're always updating and changing, but financially that can be difficult."

He encouraged business owners to apply for the grant, which made them eligible for up to 50 per cent of the costs.

Depending on plans and the size of a shopfront, businesses could be eligible for a grant of up to $5000.

"The feedback on the foreshore upgrade has been fantastic, and we know that when things are livened up the feedback is always positive," Cr Petterson said.

"Coming into a town that looks magnificent, alive and inviting will encourage tourists to come back again and again and more tourism is more dollars back into our region.

"Then those shop owners spend the dollars at other local shops, it's a circular economy in that way."

Airlie Beach already looked "great", Cr Petterson said, and upgrades to parks and gardens had always been well received by locals and travellers.

"The area has been getting better and better every day recently and people's spirits are lifting. If we can also lift the look of the place, spirits will keep lifting, and it will be good all around."

More details are available on the Whitsunday Regional Council website.