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Do it again

Monday, 8th September, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

A report recommending a major shakeup of the region’s tourism industry needs further work, according to Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far West.

 

The report, commissioned by the RDA’s Tourism Taskforce, was to come up with a governance model that would provide leadership and boost visitor numbers to the region.

 

It recommends the establishment of a peak regional tourism body that would be responsible for developing and driving tourism in the Far West.

 

The eight-member board - which would have industry and local government representation - would set strategic plans and meet up to eight times a year. 

The preferred model would also see the board take over the running of the Visitors’ Information Centre from City Council.

 

Council spends about $900,000 a year operating the VIC but “is not in a position to continue to manage and fund tourism services at the current level”, according to the report, which the BDT has seen.

 

Council has recently sold or outsourced the running of a number of its assets including the Regional Aquatic Centre, which is operated by the YMCA. 

Under a proposed staffing structure, seven staff, including a manager and four tourism officers, would be employed by the board to work at the VIC.

Council would provide the VIC or other premises rent-free and also make an annual financial contribution towards the board’s operating and marketing costs.  

However, revenue would also need to come from Central Darling Shire Council as well as increased member fees, advertising and souvenir sales.

The report was prepared by Lightfoot marketing which conducted a series of industry and engagement sessions in the city in May this year.

Its research found visits to the region were in decline and a “disengaged and fractured” industry unhappy with its lack of input into strategies.

City Council, it said, had been managing and leading the delivery of tourism for the industry and surrounding region.

“This has left the ‘ground roots’ operators without a collective voice or an independent body that works with industry, for industry.”

But Regional Development Australia Far West executive officer Michael Williams said the report was being sent back to Lightfoot for more work.

RDA’s Tourism Taskforce regarded all three governance models in the report as unsustainable and not adequately reflecting the wishes of the industry, he said.

Mr Williams said a new report would now likely be ready “in the next few weeks”.

Asked if it could still include changes in control of the VIC, Mr Williams said “everything was still an option”.

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