A free meet and greet program is a big hit with locals and tourists

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

Got a problem in your suburb that needs fixing? email me at lordmayor@bmag.com.au

One of Brisbane’s greatest selling points is the friendly and welcoming nature of our residents. Even as we continue to grow as an economic powerhouse in the Asia Pacific region, we haven’t lost that big country town charm that we’re renowned for the world over. Therefore, as part of my economic development plan for the city, I wanted to capitalise on this strategic advantage and introduced the Brisbane Greeters program last year.

No matter what major city you visit on this planet, it’s a given that tourists want to know what they can see and do. Some cities prefer to opt for impersonal digital recordings or tour operators where the conversation is all one way, but part of the reason I love being lord mayor is that we place a high value on doing business face-to-face here in Brisbane. So, what better way to make the most of our friendly and welcoming nature than offering free personal tours of the city’s real places of interest run by locals who are in the know?

Well, the service has been a major hit and has seen our volunteers take more than 2200 visitors on tours in the last 12 months. In fact it’s been so popular we’re expecting that number to almost double to 4000 visitors by the middle of the year. Part of the reason it has been so popular is that we’ve purposely hired an army of 72 volunteers who speak more than 20 different languages between them. We’re a multicultural city and I want us to embrace visitors from other countries as part of my commitment to making Brisbane a more accessible and inclusive place.

However, it’s not just international visitors who are taking up the offer, we’re also seeing plenty of interstate visitors and even locals exploring some of Brisbane’s secret treasures. As I said earlier, these tours are not just great recreational activities but also innovative ways of boosting tourism in this city, which in turn creates overall economic development opportunities for everyone, from hotels and retailers to restaurants, and keeps the thousands of staff they employ each year in jobs. That’s why we’re putting $756,000 into promotional support for the program over four years, which is a significant investment but a small price to pay when compared to the value of the economic opportunities it will help to generate.

Please recommend this service to anyone you know visiting the city – promoting our city is everyone’s responsibility because everyone will benefit.

Legacy Way tunnel progress
Speaking of economic development, Brisbane is another step closer to reducing traffic congestion clogging the city’s western corridor with tunnelling on Legacy Way now more than 50 per cent complete.Tunnel boring machines Annabell and Joyce continue to dig at record pace on their individual journeys from Toowong to Kelvin Grove. Between the two of them they’ve excavated more than five kilometres of the hard rock similar to the notorious ‘Brisbane Tuff’ we’ve encountered during the construction of other major infrastructure projects.

However, Joyce hasn’t let that get in the way, setting what is believed to be a world record when she recently tunnelled 49.7 metres in just one day. Ironically the previous record of 48 metres was actually set by Annabell just weeks earlier, so the project has now really hit its straps. Legacy Way is still on track to open in mid-2015 and will link up to other major road infrastructure to allow motorists to travel from the Ipswich and Centenary Motorways in the city’s southwest to the Brisbane Airport in the northeast without having to stop at one set of traffic lights.