The future of the Visit South Burnett local tourism organisation (LTO) is unclear following the collapse of negotiations between the LTO and the South Burnett Regional Council.
In August, the Council decided to discontinue the South Burnett’s membership of the Southern Queensland Country Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO).
Visit South Burnett had proposed the $60,000 a year the Council formerly paid the RTO should be spent on destinational marketing for the region.
“This money was always supposed to be spent on destinational marketing by Southern Queensland Country,” LTO president Jason Kinsella said.
“But in an organisation that covered Toowoomba, the Darling Downs, the Southern Downs, the Granite Belt and Western Downs, Goondiwindi and Balonne as well as the South Burnett, we were always an afterthought.
“However, destinational marketing definitely works and we believe the Council should be putting their savings into that.”
Mr Kinsella said Visit South Burnett would like to see four seasonal marketing campaigns run each year to encourage more tourists to visit the area.
But negotiations between the LTO and Council broke down late last month without reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome.
Mayor Keith Campbell said he believed tourism was a potential driver of jobs growth and high yield commerce in the region.
“I would like to reaffirm that Council is moving forward with the approach that nothing short of a radical restructure of the marketing for our region can deliver the change required to increase visitation”, the Mayor said.
However the money will be given to the Council’s Economic Development Officer Craig Tunley, who already manages a budget of more than $700,000 a year.
Mr Tunley put forward a two-page, three-year Economic Development Plan to the Council in August which identified a 300 per cent increase in tourism revenues and the creation of 3000 new jobs in the region by 2020 as targets.
Tourism is currently estimated to generate as much as $84 million per year for the South Burnett.
“Through the tourism arm of Council, Discover South Burnett recently hosted an industry first tourism operator networking function, “South Burnett Unpacked” at Yallakool Park on Bjelke-Petersen Dam,” Mayor Campbell said.
“Discover South Burnett will use its published forward marketing activity to work with operators who want to leverage this activity or partner for greater benefit.
“Further, working directly with destination events across the region through a mentoring and training program will continue to build momentum increasing the marketing outcomes.