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Tourism committee meeting cancelled at last minute

Monday, 9th February, 2015

By Erica Visser

The last minute cancellation of a highly-anticipated meeting into the future of the city’s tourism “smacks of incompetence”, according to one of the figures involved.

Much confusion still surrounds an implementation committee set up to develop tourism in the region, following City Council’s move to cut funding towards the industry.

Council spends $900,000 a year operating the Visitors Information Centre but was “not in a position to continue to manage and fund tourism services at the current level”, a report found late last year.

A Tourism Taskforce ran through federal-funded Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far West was expected to meet with the newly-established implementation committee to “hand over the key” last Thursday.

However, the meeting was postponed indefinitely with 24 hours notice.

RDA Far West CEO Michael Williams said that while the tourism shake-up was an urgent matter, there was no point holding the meeting when some of the “key players” were unable to attend.

But committee member Hugh Gough, a bed and breakfast owner, said that the sudden cancellation after a two-month hiatus signalled that tourism wasn’t being taken seriously enough.

“I’m a little bit pissed off, quite frankly, with the fact that RDA have spent in excess of $100,000 on this and nobody really knows where we’re going from here,” Mr Gough said.

“The implementation committee has got nothing - no finances, no structure - how it can work is a mystery to me.

“If there’s no funding available, I’m going to walk.

“What the RDA did do clearly was highlight the fact the industry definitely is desperate for change where there is no cohesiveness and no collaboration.”

But Coburn Hotel licensee Meredith Esam, also a member of the committee, said she was feeling optimistic about the way forward.

 

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Neither Mr Gough or Ms Esam could substantiate rumours that some members had pulled out of the committee over concerns regarding its viability.

“(On the committee) there are some very experienced people with a lot of ideas that can be forward,” Ms Esam said.

“The key is maintaining a positive outlook and working together in a way that’s united.

“The bottom line is if we can focus on attracting a larger, broader spectrum, we and all other operators will get a larger piece of the pie.”

Ms Esam said the committee, which was made up of nine people, could have benefitted from more voices.

“It would be a shame to see it constricted to only a small spectrum of views.

“My situation is a little bit different. Being in Cockburn we’re a South Australian entity but we certainly rely on the Broken Hill region.

“We figured it’s important for us to stay involved and of course it would be nice to see more hands on the table.”

RDA Far West has been contacted for comment.

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