The requirement for Inland NSW, the Regional Tourism Organisation for the region, to be put into voluntary administration has left the recently formed Destination Far West organisation in limbo, according to local representatives.
At the time when the Inland NSW Board appointed administrators on 31 March 2016, Destination Far West had 70+ members from across the Far West region representing the broader visitor economy.
The organisation, which was formed in July 2015 and sponsored by Inland NSW, had broad support and membership comprising organisations, operators and individuals.
The Destination Far West Steering Group, chaired by Inland Chief Executive Officer Graham Perry, was made up of representatives from Broken Hill City Council, Far West Business Chambers, National Parks and Wildlife Services, Silver City Mint, award winning organisations like Tri-State Safaris and Eldee Station and individuals like Steve Martin. At the time the organisation was poised to appoint three other individuals to the Steering Group.
Speaking on behalf of the Destination Far West Steering Group, Michael McCulkin of Tri State Safaris says for the first time in many years there was hope that the region’s local tourism industry was finally coming together, with Destination Far West positioned to become the local voice of tourism across the Far West, NSW.
“Inland NSW had established unprecedented support including growing membership and strong collaboration across the region,” explained McCulkin.
“There was a sense that things were finally happening, including multiple marketing opportunities. The industry had not only taken over responsibility for the production and distribution of the Outback Visitor Information Guide (VIG) with Inland’s support, but was motivated by a number of cooperative marketing opportunities.”
By sponsoring Destination Far West and working with the Steering Group, Inland NSW had, in just 9 short months, launched the new entity and name, launched the membership prospectus, secured 70+ members, launched a prospectus for the Outback 2016/17 Visitor Information Guide (VIG), secured more than $100,000 in advertising revenue, published and distributed the VIG across the region and launched terms of reference and Expressions of interest for individuals to join the Steering Group.
“As a result of Government funding challenges there is now great concern that all the work and good momentum could be lost. The industry is again in limbo,” according to McCulkin.
Once appointed, the newly enlarged Destination Far West Steering Group was about to meet to review the Outback Destination Management Plan (DMP) published by Inland NSW in 2012. Once updated, the Group was to become responsible for implementing the actions and recommendations featured in the DMP.
“Membership was structured so that members of Destination Far West became members of Inland NSW and vice versa,” explained McCulkin.
This unique arrangement meant that all Destination Far West members were eligible to access, benefit and participate in a whole range of initiatives provided by Inland NSW including but not limited to:
- Inclusion in TravelIn – www.travelin.com.au/broken-hill – the new digital platform and website developed between Inland NSW and Bauer Media. Member accommodation operators were eligible to receive bookings at just 5% commission (non-member operators would be charged 10%)
- Benefitting and participation in a $566,000 cooperative marketing program (had it been approved)
- The Outback Touring Program
- Participation in the 2017/18 VIG
- Access to the Inland NSW DMP – to reference in grant applications
- Access to the member website
- Free membership of My Travel Research – and related content, research and insights
- Member forums and workshops
- Member newsletters
- Other marketing benefits
“If you add the membership arrangement between Inland NSW and specialist accommodation providers Outback Beds, this demonstrates the strong support for Inland NSW across the Far West including 90+ operators plus Broken Hill City Council as members.”
“With the Steering Group, we are determined to work to ensure that all is not lost,” confirms McCulkin.
“Destination Far West members have already received extensive benefits from their membership – not least being the publishing of the Outback Visitor Information Guide.
“We are working to find a solution for another organisation to step up and fill the leadership void left by the unfortunate cessation of Inland NSW to seamlessly continue Destination Far West. We aim to appoint the new individuals to reinforce the existing Steering Group with a view to distributing a revised Destination Far West membership prospectus to industry prior to June 30 2016. We aim to talk to the Inland NSW Administrators to transfer ownership of the Destination Far West name and entity and to talk to Destination NSW and Broken Hill City Council to urge continued support and resources.
“Put simply, Destination Far West has come too far just to let it all fall by the wayside.”