30 August 2023

Cooktown Chamber keen to lift profile of local businesses under new leadership

| Sarah Martin
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Cooktown businessman and keen fisher Russell Bowman will head the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism after last week’s AGM.

MORE educational and social events and ongoing advertising will be key focus areas for the Cooktown Chamber of Commerce and Tourism under new president Russell Bowman.

Mr Bowman, who owns several businesses in town including The Lure Shop Tackleworld Cooktown, has been on the chamber executive as vice president and treasurer for many years.

He took on the president’s role at last week’s AGM.

“I’ve managed to sit on the backburner and be vice president and treasurer for a number of years, and I thought I’ll put my hand up for a couple of years and see where that goes,” Mr Bowman said.

He replaced outgoing president Mick Davies, with Julie Hillhouse stepping into Mr Bowman’s vacated treasurer role. Secretary Will Peck retained his position.

The Seaview Motel’s Jason Ritchie, Nellie Harvey from Cooktown Wholesalers, Melinda Parker from Astute Law and Mr Davies from the River of Gold Motel form the remainder of the executive.

Mr Bowman said the chamber would continue to advocate for the region and encouraged local businesses to do the same.

“A lot of people don’t understand what there is to do in Cooktown, so we just need to make sure we keep getting that message out,” he said.

The chamber has several promotions currently running, including a QR code sticker which visitors can scan to read the digital business directory and top 10 things to do in the area.

“We’ve had great feedback from people who have said they’re going to take the ideas back home which has been really encouraging for us,” Mr Bowman said.

“We’re also keen now that we’re out of our high season to get some events back happening for the business community.

“We’ve got artificial intelligence presentations and information sessions in collaboration with Country Universities Centre Cape York on September 13 and 14 and we’re going to have a social barbecue down at the waterfront towards the end of the season, as well as bringing an insurance specialist up to talk about saving money in that space.

“It’s all about making Cooktown a great place that people want to come and settle down in and bring kids up, that all goes hand in hand with a healthy, active business community.”

Mr Bowman said the chamber would be working closely with Cook Shire to look at long-term infrastructure needs.

“Council’s role is about having vision to provide the infrastructure and the business community will bring the drive and passion from a commercial point of view and assist in advertising far and wide collectively to make sure Cooktown gets a slice of the pie,” he said.

“The caravan and camper trailer sales are certainly not in decline and you’ve got all these people that have invested in this great outdoors adventure that just want to use it now.

“Cooktown and Cape York fits part of that equation, but we need to make sure we keep getting that message out.”

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