Last week’s release of the final report into the Visitor Economy Taskforce “highlights the need for change in regional tourism across the state,” the Tourism Industry Council NSW, General Manager, Mr Andrew Jefferies has said.
Whilst the Council agrees with the basis of the report and its priority issues that a sustainable source of revenue to fund critical visitor economy infrastructure is necessary for the future, more focus on Destination Management Plans and that the current Regional Tourism Organisation structure is ineffective, we are concerned that an over reliance on the decisions made by the elected body of a Local Government Authority may also not deliver the necessary results through special rate variations via a special purpose entity and politically sensitive decisions to support rate increases over and above the present rate pegging methods.
The Tourism Industry Council NSW’s submission to the Visitor Economy Taskforce report last year called for a reduction and amalgamation of the current Regional Tourism Organisation Network to around five or six from the present 14, providing greater size and scale and an increase in activities and services to enable a greater focus on increasing visitor numbers and experiences. “The release of the VET report clearly leaves the future of the RTO network up in the air and we are keen to learn more from the Government about its future plans in this area, including the establishment of the five visitor economy zones across NSW”, Mr Jefferies said.
“We agree with calls for greater leadership and collaboration between like minded Councils with a strong interest in the tourism space, however, we are also keenly aware of the competing priorities and challenges that many Local Government Authorities around the state face to remain sustainable, coupled with regular changes to political cycles and the changeover in representatives every four years”. Mr Jefferies, also an elected Councillor in Sydney’s Hills Shire said “Policies and expenditure priorities can change from one Council boundary to the next and moves to apply a special rate levy can often be seen as politically difficult and not always in the best interests of the local tourism operator. Some LGA’s may also see this as another example of Government cost shifting and may choose to back away from this type of action, however, well intentioned it may seem”.
The Tourism Industry Council NSW acknowledges the length of study and work that has gone into the report and now looks forward to the Government’s response later this year. “We look forward to a definitive future direction that can bind and galvanise the industry in order to achieve the objectives of the plan to double overnight visitor expenditure into New South Wales by 2020.”
For further information, please contact Tourism Industry Council NSW General Manager, Andrew Jefferies upon 9267 6865 or 0417 448 935