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Future of tourism in our own hands

Saturday, 25th July, 2015

Inland NSW CEO Graham Perry Inland NSW CEO Graham Perry

By Andrew Robertson

A new membership-based entity charged with driving visitation to Broken Hill and the region will live or die from the support it receives from the industry, the head of the region’s peak tourism body has warned.  

Inland NSW CEO Graham Perry said yesterday the launch of Destination Far West NSW was an opportunity for Broken Hill to “take responsibility” for its own future after months of “frustration” and uncertainty about the direction of tourism.  

A report commissioned by Regional Development Australia on behalf of the Tourism Task Force last year found visitation to the far west was in decline and the industry “disengaged and fractured”. 

It suggested a number of new governance models including the establishment of a peak tourism body that would be funded by industry and responsible for setting strategic direction.

But subsequent efforts to enlist industry support for a preferred model failed to achieve an outcome and earlier this year Inland NSW stepped in, promising to launch a new model in July.  

“We’re very pleased that the process has now resulted in a clear path forward, with the assistance of the steering group which represents the region’s visitor economy and tourism,” said Mr Perry, who is in the city for the launch as well as the Inland Tourism Awards. 

Balranald, Central Darling, Wentworth, Hay and the Unincorporated Area will also be covered by the new tourism entity which Mr Perry warned needed industry support to be successful.

Tiered membership ranging from $50 to $500 will be offered to operators who in turn will get access to a new digital platform and “preferred rates” to be part of the Visitor Information Guide. 

“Over time, once we have secured the support from industry through membership and through support advertising in the Visitor Information Guide, we aim to employ a person in the region to actually drive the business forward,” Mr Perry said.

Before then the terms of reference will have to be developed and expressions of interest sought from people around the region to be part of the steering committee.

Mr Perry said aligning the new entity with Inland NSW had a number of benefits.

“It means we can leverage what Inland NSW is already doing because we are sponsoring it and it saves having to set up an entirely different entity and all the costs and issues associated with that.

“Inland has at its disposal approaching a million dollars quarantine funding each year and we’re going to make a pot of that funding available to Destination Far West.”

The new model was launched to a gathering of operators and industry stakeholders at the Musicians’ Club on Thursday evening where it received overwhelming support, according to business owner Chris Anderson.

“Everyone accepted it,” he said.

Mr Anderson, who was also on the committee charged with implementing the preferred model, said the most positive aspect of the new model was the fact it would be industry-driven. 

“In the past, for as long as I’ve been in business, the council has run the tourism side of things and they’ve carried everything themselves.

“Well, for the first time there’s going to be a manager that’s not going to be council based, (they) will be industry based and it will be driven by industry.”

Mr Anderson, who said operators were already “handing over cheques” to become members, credited Mr Perry with the successful outcome.

“He’s been the driving force behind it. He’s put in a lot of work and pulled it all together and he’s got a lot of expertise in that field. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.”

Despite the change in direction Mr Perry said Council would continue to play an important role in the region’s tourism industry. 

“They still have commitments to the Sculptures and lots of other tourism assets and they’re going to continue running the Visitor Information Centre, which is as important today as it’s ever been,” he said.

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