Dear Beagle Editor, Knowing of the interest that The Beagle editor has in Eurobodalla Tourism's practices, policies, budget, performance and accomplishment and knowing of the intended focused investigation, revision and reporting of the Eurobodalla Tourism division by The Beagle in 2018 we pass on our latest media release for the interest of your readers. the many faces of tourism …
The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) believes that ratepayers have provided approximately $3M in funding to underwrite the activities of Sapphire Coast Tourism (SCT) in promoting & developing tourism in the Bega Valley over the past decade, with around $2M provided by a special rate variation imposed on a some local businesses & the balance funded by all ratepayers.
The BVSRRA cannot vouch for the absolute accuracy of the above figures, simply because Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) has refused to release them.
While the BVSRRA is a strong supporter of the responsible development of tourism in the Bega Valley, it has long been concerned that the provision of significant amounts of ratepayer funds have been made to SCT without adequate controls, conditions & oversight being put in place to govern its expenditure & without measurable objectives being attached to the funding.
In fact, the BVSRRA has not been able to identify a single report prepared by the board or management of SCT accounting for the expenditure of ratepayers funds allocated to it & specifying the tangible benefits accruing to ratepayers from the expenditure.
Likewise, the BVSRRA has not sighted any similar reports prepared by BVSC. And likewise, the BVSRRA has not been able to identify a single report prepared by either SCT or BVSC, detailing SCT’s achievements against its defined objectives in its constitution over the past decade.
Indeed, in a recent exchange with a former director of SCT, the BVSRRA was advised that the “only measurable objective” that SCT was obliged to pursue was to “increase tourist visitation numbers”. When asked about SCT’s responsibilities for adding value to the shire’s economy & generating employment, the BVSRRA was advised that was not SCT’s concern.
In the circumstances, it is therefore hardly surprising that SCT & BVSC believe the former organisation has been very successful in pursuing its objectives, simply because it argues (wrongly) that tourist visitation “nights” have increased, while ignoring the fact that the overwhelming increase in tourist numbers has been in the Domestic Day Visitors.
More importantly & significantly, the economic value of tourism & the level of employment the sector generates has been consistently in decline over the period of SCT’s custodianship for tourism.
On February 22nd, 2017, BVSC resolved to set-up a “Tourism Review Liaison Group” (TRLG) in order “that future governance, responsibilities & funding for tourism related services controlled by BVSC are decided taking into consideration a changed operating environment that will present new opportunities & relationships”; whatever that is supposed to mean. On April 26th, 2017, BVSC adopted terms of reference for the TRLG.
In examining the terms of reference, the BVSRRA was particularly concerned to note that there was no provision for non-business/tourism community representation on the TRLG & also that the terms of reference did not call for any assessment of the success or otherwise of tourism activities funded by ratepayers over the past decade via BVSC & SCT.
That BVSC thinks it can make sound decisions regarding proposed tourism promotion & development activities & their future public funding without reviewing past performance & without the involvement of representation from the community is simply not credible: indeed, the BVSRRA would argue that it is simply laughable.
The BVSRRA has now commenced monitoring this issue & with that in-mind, it has prepared a preliminary paper on the local tourism industry & will continue to add to that resource as the issue develops … see here
Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association