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Eurobodalla Tourism nudges $1.5m budget per year - but are we getting value for money?

On Tuesday at the ordinary meeting of Eurobodalla Council the councillors will move to accept the March Quarterly Budget Review Statement by Entity for YTD Period Ending March 2018 Of interest is the fact that the Eurobodalla Tourism annual budget is fast approaching $1.5m

No doubt it has come to our councillors attention, going over the March review, that Eurobodalla Tourism is now approaching the $1.5m per year mark. No doubt also they have asked themselves "Are we getting value for money?" No doubt the Tourism people are saying wonderous things about what they are achieving and councillors are taking their reports on face value however those in the community who have an expectation of measurable evidence might wonder about the actual details. For those who have done so they will have found that there is little to celebrate and in fact the results are POOR across the board in terms of value for money. Anecdotally across the shire from one tourism provider to the next the Eurobodalla Tourism division has arrived at an all time low in reputation with open criticism of its website, its engagement and its under performing promotion of the area that has not changed its model in over a decade. The mechanisms of web presence, social media presence and holiday planners are considered ineffectual in terms of turn-style benefits for those who list and are promoted by Eurobodalla Tourism and their "accomplishments" are highly refuted from the reports they read. One gem however has been the very positive responses in regards to the Narooma Visitors Centre managed by Montague Arts and Crafts Society (MACS). The same positives, to those who have spoken to The Beagle and The South Coast Travel Guide have not been so forthcoming in regards to the Batemans Bay Visitors Centre for its location and for the limited tourism material available. Both spaces have however also been acknowledged for the showcasing of local arts. With the prospect of moving the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in Batemans Bay to the Mackay Park precinct Council might like to consider it's "findability" to visitors who already report the difficulty they have in finding the VIC in the Bay as most anticipate that such a facility should be logically located in the heart of the town and not the fringe. In order to allow councillors and readers to draw their own conclusions The South Coast Beagle has prepared a brief overview of Eurobodalla Tourism so that councillors at least might be better informed of who they are, how they measure and are measured, what they do and how they report. You can read the 31 page report HERE Some background: The Tourism Advisory Committee was canned in 2017. In its stead it was considered that there should be a skills based group representing both tourism and business however there has been no action. As such the Tourism staff have no reference point or the opportunity to engage and include the local tourism industry. · Tourism Advisory Committee Mayor Liz Innes (Chair), Councillor Rob Pollock, Councillor Maureen Nathan In turn Council’s Business Advisory Committee has barely functioned over the past four years and were told at the last meeting held meeting (which canned the Tourism Advisory Committee) that its future format would be looked at by Council. As yet nothing exists. · Business Advisory Committee Mayor Liz Innes (Chair), Councillor Rob Pollock, Councillor Phil Constable

It was generally agreed at that meeting by those who attended that Council had embarrassed itself and they are now in damage control. It is widely believed by those in the tourism sector that the new Tourism/Events structure - or rearrangement of the deck chairs, is showing its limitations and also its conflicts of interest. Planning oversight of entrepreneurial business/tourism strategy is considered comical at best as they have no “skin in the game” nor business acumen yet insist on dictating terms.

This lack of genuine business acumen and experience is a significant part of the structural issue. The capacity to reconcile the different and opposing areas between business investment risk, promotion and timely proactivity is not there and as such has not engendered business confidence. It is understood that Council’s Event Strategy 2016 to 2022 has been binned, and that is now being re-written. It is also understood that the Eurobodalla Tourism website will be overhauled. The last overhaul of the website came at a cost in excess of $25,000 with the contract going to a company outside of the Shire. It is not known how much the new website will cost and whether it will be done in house however if it is done externally there will be a requirement that all information will be required to be provided and proof read by Council staff as external authors will not have the local knowledge to prepare such content inevitably leading to needless, time consuming errors. This was witnessed in the first draft of the ROSS draft contracted interstate where locality information was incorrect and went unnoticed due to lack of local knowledge by the authors. In the end it was the community who became the proof readers as might be the case in any tourism website re-write. It is widely considered that Eurobodalla Councillors are neither briefed on the status of Tourism and that there has been no proactive approach by any of the councillors to those in the tourism sector to establish for themselves the perceptions and misgivings that our tourism businesses have of Eurobodalla Tourism.

#Opinion #Council #LocalStateFederal #LeiParker

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