Tourism bodies face a reshuffle
A MAJOR reshuffle of tourism organisations on the Southern Downs could be on the cards, as councillors yesterday gave in-principle support to a new tourism structure for the region.
The new model recommended that Warwick have an official Local Tourism Organisation (LTO) like Stanthorpe’s Granite Belt Wine Tourism (GBWT), which it currently does not.
This would likely be some part of Warwick Tourism and Events, with the events part of the business model to be taken on by council – something which Southern Downs Regional councillors had concerns with.
Warwick Tourism and Events is not affiliated with Tourism Queensland and is primarily an event manager and promoter, rather a tourism marketing body.
Before any new structure is signed off, there will be a public consultation and Mayor Ron Bellingham expects this to be opened sometime near next week’s general meeting.
The discussion, which was confidential, yesterday split councillors who ultimately voted 6-3 in favour of giving in-principle support to the reforms, provided more groundwork was done.
The current arrangement for our region sees the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) split funding between Southern Downs and Granite Belt Regional Tourism (SDGBRT), Warwick Tourism and Events and GBWT.
This is normally split about one-third each.
Cr Bellingham yesterday conceded to the Daily News that this could be a duplication of roles, with two local organisations promoting Warwick and Stanthorpe and then a regional body promoting the entire region.
“A lot of these concerns are recognised by council,” he said.
“I think that during the public consultation process alternative models will emerge.
“The proposal will see an LTO similar to the one in Stanthorpe in Warwick.”
The Mayor said there were some concerns with having council take on the events part of Warwick Tourism and Events, should it become the Warwick LTO, but said there was no way that SDGBRT would take this on.
“The regional body’s sole purpose is to promote the region with help from Tourism Queensland,” he said.
Representatives from GBWT yesterday gave a presentation to Council, asking for six per cent extra funding, or a rise from $132,000 to $140,000 in the next budget.
Treasurer Ron Williams said the organisation sourced the remainder of its funding frommemberships and a levy on members, which works out to about $85,000.
GBWT is currently undertaking a review of its levy system and Mr Williams said they hoped to make a presentation at the annual general meeting in August.
SDGBRT and Toowoomba and Golden West Regional TouristAssociation joint general manager James Corvan also gave a presentation to council yesterday.
He said the organisations had received $50,000 in State funding to employ a joint general manager for the next year.
Mr Corvan brought councillors’ attention to the Sunshine Coast, which funnels almost $6 million into tourism each year, and has recently implemented a newtourism structure which just sees one main body look after the entire region.
“Sunshine Coast has collapsed all of the organisations into one ,” Mr Corvan said.
“I don’t want to tell you how to suck eggs ... it’s about saying that this will be a whole new ball game.
“It’s not about enforced change, it’s about managed change.
“My personal opinion is that we should be looking at the whole situation of what’s happening in the region.”