Saturday, 17th January, 2015
By By Erica Visser
A committee faced with taking on tourism will be officially formed early next month, but a local business owner says there’s too large a divide within the community for it to work.
Steve Sliwka recently moved back to Broken Hill with wife Noelene to renovate the Old Royal Hotel, an endeavour which he hopes will begin to pay off when the bar is expected to open in around a fortnight.
“We came back for the tourism future, not the mining future,” Mr Sliwka said.
“...There’s a struggle right now because there’s that divide between some of the prominent operators in town. How do we get that trust back?
“We’ve got the same personalities who come on these different boards and committees.”
Since moving to the city, Mr Sliwka has been actively concerned with the state of tourism.
“A lot of feedback from out of town is not good,” Mr Sliwka said yesterday.
“The biggest problem is service. Traditionally Broken Hill shuts down at Christmas and Easter because the mines used to shut and we’ve still got that mentality.
“I had a couple say to me, ‘We couldn’t get a sandwich at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in Argent Street anywhere except for Subway.’”
Mr Sliwka hoped the Old Royal would bring something new to Broken Hill.
“I’ve got the licence for 6am until 12am because I want minors to be able to have a milkshake in the beer garden.
“Where do people go after football? People in Adelaide or in Wagga Wagga, they like to go for a counter meal with the family. We don’t do that here.”
Mr Sliwka, who has a background in risk management, said that the business was originally due to open last November but was pushed back pending Council approval.
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“The biggest thing you need is patience. You don’t build a business in Broken Hill looking for a fast buck.”
Whilst the bar should open in a matter of weeks, the kitchen will likely be a month off.
Mr Sliwka said that he would gladly contribute to a tourism body, but was unsure how the transitional committee would be effective.
Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far West, under Council sponsorship, spent the second half of 2014 looking into alternate models for a body to take on the responsibility from Council, which spent $850,000 on tourism annually.
Chair Robin Edgecumbe remained tight lipped about the members of the committee and said that there had been no progression whilst everyone was “having a break” until early February.
This was despite Council waiting on the committee’s input to decide on a timely motion to hire a consultant to develop a large scale tourism event for the city.
“What’s next is the handing over of the keys process. We’ll meet with them, give them some background and recommendations on how they need to go forward and who to partner with also,” Mr Edgecumbe said.
The taskforce would then soon be disbanded and the committee would act on its own.
“What we can say comfortably is that we believe there was great scope for improvement,” Mr Edgecumbe said.
“There’ll be a media release after the meeting between the taskforce and the transitional committee and that will provide more details about their objectives.”