Merger decision expected today

A DECISION on the possible merger of Southern Downs & Granite Belt Regional Tourism (SDGBRT) with Toowoomba, Golden West and South Burnett, was made yesterday and an announcement is expected today.

The massive south-east Queensland merger has been in the pipeline for months, with consultants recommending the move.

However, the organisations have been engaged in lengthy discussions to ensure they do not miss out on any funding as a result of the merger.

Regional tourism boss Stuart Perry, who is also the general manager of Toowoomba, Golden West & South Burnett Tourism, confirmed there was a meeting of the boards yesterday.

He said a statement should be released today.

Mr Perry previously warned Southern Downs Regional Council about the impact its local tourism restructure could have on the merger, saying its bottom-up funding approach could lead to less funding from State Government.

Transition meetings are still being held to restructure the tourism model, though some of the progress will depend on today's decision.

Just recently the Toowoomba and Golden West amalgamated with South Burnett to form a tourism super-body and the suggestion was that joining forces with the Southern Downs would make the group even stronger and hopefully allow it to attract more funding.

At council meetings, Mr Perry previously said, while he didn't know the final decision, a merger was likely.

According to the regional body's statistics, in the Southern Downs, 707 people are directly employed in visitor industry and 384 jobs are indirectly related to servicing visitors.

There has been a good spike in visitation through the region from 2008 to the present time.

The strength of visitor numbers through the visitor information centres was more than 20,000 this year.

While previously operated by SDGBRT, local tourism organisation Warwick Tourism and Events will take over the operation or the Warwick Visitor Information Centre in coming months, transferring its base from the Town Hall to the centre.

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