By ERWIN CHLANDA
A man who came to town as a printer, a “solitary” occupation as he describes it, switched to tourism because it’s more fun to be with people looking for a good time.
Now Patrick Bedford is running a significant business, Emu Run, with 15 staff and 15 vehicles ranging from three large coaches to several mid-size ones to 4WDs, and two accommodation houses, including the hostel in Muehler Street where he stayed when he first arrived 16 years ago.
He is also the president of Tourism Central Australia, which has 430 members. He is pictured above during a promotion in the Mall of the Mereenie loop road sealing in July last year.
And today he announced his bid for Mayor (and councillor) in next month’s local government elections.
He says he wants to be a player in this critical time for the town, whose major industry, because of Covid, ricochets between plenty of staff and few customers, or lots of customers and not enough staff, with a painful changeover time of some six weeks each time.
There are mixed messages confusing the industry and customers alike, he says.
Emu Run operates in the West MacDonnells and the Lasseter region.
But the town plays a major role: “We need to re-vitalise the CBD,” Mr Bedford says.
“The Mall isn’t much more than a couple of coffee shops. We need families to re-engage with it. It needs a playground, a water park.”
He has four children, aged from five to 13.
Above all, the rate of vaccinations will need to be boosted. General practitioners should have been involved much sooner, to achieve an 80% full vaccination rate.
The News will publish a comprehensive interview with Mr Bedford later this week.