THE chairman of the board of Warwick Tourism and Events (WTE) has given cautious support to a proposal to merge the body with its Stanthorpe counterpart.
Greg Newey yesterday said a tourism consultants' report commissioned by the council and released this week contained positive recommendations, including the merger of WTE and Granite Belt Wine and Tourism.
But Mr Newey, who has been at the helm of WTE since the Warwick and Stanthorpe shires amalgamated in 2008, raised concern about the cost of such a move.
He also questioned the effect on volunteers at the visitor information centres in both towns, who he said had been adjusting to other major changes in recent times.
As well as the merger, the report by TEAM consulting identifies improvements needed in areas such as signage and the appearance of some venues, which Mr Newey said were valid.
But he also said a new body would need extra staff and questioned if the current budget of $450,000 to run WTE and GBWT and their visitor centres would be enough.
"There are a lot of positives in this report and the overall idea of one organisation has merit," Mr Newey said.
"But I have serious concerns about the cost and also about introducing it as soon as within the next six months," Mr Newey said.
"We've only just gone through a process of transferring the running of Warwick's visitor centre to Warwick Tourism and Events from the regional tourism body - a big change for the volunteers, who are the mainstay of the promotional team.
"The effect on them of more changes needs to be considered."
Mr Newey said the TEAM report - which will be discussed at this month's round of council meetings - recommended new positions such as an overall manager of a new local tourism body and events and promotions managers, who would need administrative support.
"It now costs $100,000 each to run the visitor centres and I don't think you'd get an overall manager for less than $100,000 so it doesn't leave much left," he aid.
"I just feel this move may be premature and perhaps should be looked at being brought in over a longer period, say five years."
The report also recommends promotional "action groups" across the region, such as the Killarney Area Promotion Association.