Darling Downs Tourism Board members … back row, from left, Tony Heckendorf, Isaac Moody, Eleanor Kratzmann, Russell Peters and David James (absent: Geoff Davenport); sitting, CEO Ruth Wetmore and chairman John Wagner

May 29, 2017

Bunya Mountains restaurant proprietor Eleanor Kratzmann has been appointed to the Board of a new breakaway tourism association formed by Toowoomba businessman John Wagner.

Mr Wagner will be chairman of Darling Downs Tourism which will cover Toowoomba, Kingaroy, Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe and the Lockyer Valley.

He aims to sign up at least 600 tourism businesses to the body.

The establishment of the new Local Tourism Organisation (LTO) follows a falling out between the Wellcamp Airport developer and Southern Queensland Country Tourism in January.

At the time, Mr Wagner slammed SQCT in the media as an “absolute joke” and a “disgrace”, and suggested taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ dollars were not being spent wisely in the region.

Mr Wagner said on Monday the local tourism industry and visitors should be excited by the new organisation which was “committed to developing and promoting the Darling Downs brand”.

“We have an amazing region and the mission of Darling Downs Tourism is to promote the finest quality, authentic experiences in our local area to our visitors, while boosting the benefit to our business community,” he said.

The other Board members of the new group are Geoff Davenport (owner Happy Valley Retreat and Granite Belt Brewery, Stanthorpe), Tony Heckendorf (owner Motel Glenworth and spokesperson for Toowoomba Accommodation Providers Group), David James (company director Tangalooma Island Resort), Isaac Moody (owner Gabbinbar Homestead) and Russell Peters (owner Peters Coaches and Peters Travel).

Strategic marketer Ruth Wetmore has been appointed CEO.

“It is important that this LTO leverages the spectacular and unique experiences and products of the region and delivers game changing outcomes for our visitors, our industry and our more than 2000 tourism operators,” Ms Wetmore said.

“We will be membership based and we urge every business on the Darling Downs to join our organisation.

“Tourism generates more than $1.3 billion per annum – or an astonishing $3.5m per day – in direct and indirect revenue for the region, creating more than 10,000 jobs.”

The new body will be launched at Wellcamp Airport on June 13 at a function for an “anticipated crowd of about 1000 guests”.

Country music singer Chelsea Basham will perform at the launch.

Tourism operators keen to attend have been asked to register their interest on www.visitdarlingdowns.com.au

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One Response to "Local Voice On
Breakaway Tourism Group

  1. I don’t see in any representatives from the major South Burnett communities in this group. The Bunya Mountains, while part of this district, isn’t all there is as a tourist destination.

    The SQCT doesn’t work for the South Burnett and is not cost effective. It is both a costly and shameful failure as a promoter of our beautiful part of Queensland.

    I sympathise with the Wagner group but they are not from the South Burnett and have no empathy with all of our region. All rate payers contribute significantly to the SQCT funding but get very little in return.

    What is needed is a locally based tourism organisation with local local business people on the board promoting and championing our own tourist destinations. It’s time this for this issue to be finalised. We should not be a pawn being continually used by others in promoting their own personal interests and in doing so neglecting the interests of the rest of our region

    Our local businesses suffer and investment is being stiffed due, in no small way, to the neglect and oversight by the present tourism promoters. The knock-on effect is insidious and demoralising as it impacts on employment opportunities, lifestyle, urban development and infrastructure and much more. We are all, in one way or another, being impacted as a result.

    I’ve said it before and I shall continue to say it ” We need a South Burnett Tourism council” and we need it now!

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