December 9, 2018
Tourism operators have urged the South Burnett Regional Council to consult with them before spending any more ratepayers’ money on tourism promotion.
At a meeting held at Wooroolin Hall on Thursday night, South Burnett tourism operators voted overwhelmingly that Council consult with them about the activities of its tourism arm, Discover South Burnett (DSB).
They expressed concerns that tourism had declined sharply since DSB assumed control of the region’s tourism marketing 15 months ago.
They were also critical of a proposal – released a day before the meeting – that stipulated conditions operators should meet in order to be promoted by DSB.
Senior Economic Development Officer Craig Tunley explained what operators should do to become part of Council’s tourism marketing efforts.
Mr Tunley said tourism operators should:
In return, they would get the opportunity to buy advertising in DSB publications or participate in other promotional activities.
Mr Tunley said while events could obtain an ATDW listing for free, for an event to be promoted by DSB it needed to:
Mr Tunley told operators they should adopt the new system if they wanted to be part of DSB’s marketing efforts.
But when operators asked if they would be consulted before DSB spent ratepayers’ money on these marketing activities, Mr Tunley said any concerns they might have should be raised with Councillors.
“That’s why we have Councillors, they are the ratepayers’ representatives,” Mr Tunley said.
“This is an operational activity. This is how we spend our Budget, and our approach to funding. When our Budget spending is approved, we will take that activity back through Council.
“That’s how I undertake our (ie DSB’s) activity, that’s how I undertake every single part of my activities.”
However, Council CEO Mark Pitt clarified that if tourism operators did not take out an ATDW listing, they would not be completely excluded from DSB’s activities.
He also said he thought the request for industry consultation wasn’t unreasonable, although it was unclear at present what form it should take.
The Wooroolin meeting was called after Mr Tunley presented his proposed 12-month marketing plan last month to a dozen local tourism operators in Kingaroy.
At that meeting, operators – many of them members of the Visit South Burnett local tourism organisation – criticised how poorly advertised the meeting had been and how little notice had been given.
They were also critical of how little consultation DSB had undertaken with the industry prior to drawing up its marketing plan, the lack of results DSB’s marketing efforts had achieved so far, and the quality of DSB’s “Let’s Go South Burnett” publication.
They questioned DSB’s use of South Burnett council funds to promote the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival (in the Gympie council area) while events in the South Burnett region had been ignored.
Thursday’s Wooroolin meeting drew four times the audience of the Kingaroy meeting.
Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff and Crs Heit, Potter and Jones attended, along with Mr Tunley, Mr Pitt and several council staff, including Tourism Officer Julie Foley.