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Tourism meet and greet is found wanting

Above: all kinds of wonderful has been withdrawn following the reveal that Gippsland pipped Eurobodalla at the post on the slogan. Eurobodalla will now retreat to a nature based slogan reflecting the traditional #NatureCoast theme Tonight saw the Eurobodalla Strategy development milestones and Cruise Industry update hosted by Eurobodalla Shire at Corrigans Cove Resort in Batemans Bay providing a great opportunity to meet and chat with like-minded tourism businesses, councillors and staff including the Tourism and Events Team. The night was promoted as one of two important industry update and networking functions with the second scheduled for: Wednesday 5th June at the Narooma Golf Club The Batemans Bay event commenced with presentations that lead into informal networking with most attendees looking forward to learn of Council's key project developments around tourism. The keynote presentation of the night was from Natalie Godward, from the NSW Port Authority of NSW regarding the Cruise Ship industry into Batemans Bay.

Unfortunately the overall take home from the perspective of this reporter was that the event was little more than Council's self indulgence evening pulled together to, as commented by a Batemans Bay industry leader, "justify Councils tourism jobs with dodgy figures that no tourism business owner believed for a second."

During the presentation the Council stated that the increase in numbers of visitors from 2017 to 2018 was directly attributable to Councils Tourism work and staff working in Tourism. Those in the know questioned the figures suggesting that either the #Unspoilt campaign actually worked, or the numbers increased because of industry and had nothing to do with Council, as Council has had no other campaign or marketing of tourism in the last three years. Council Tourism has been more open in regards to their admission that #unspoilt was not working with any flow though with most #unspoilt visitors finding themselves in #shoalhaven. The discussion around the attendees was that #unspoilt was recently replaced with "Eurobodalla - all kinds of wonderful" that too has had to be replaced as Gippsland Tourism got the drop on Eurobodalla and launched their own Wonder campaign a month ago. This is relegating Eurobodalla to return to a nature themed approach reflecting its #NatureCoast appeal of over a decade ago.

One thing that certainly irked many in attendance was the self-aggrandisement of Council staff who payed little respect to the financial commitment of many of the tourism operators in the room who had tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in the game, successfully running their own marketing without relying on Council slogans, hashtags or promotions. The general feeling for the night and the come-away message was that Council's failure to acknowledge the hard work and financial commitment of industry owners was an insult.

Comments from attendees around the room tonight included:

“You would think that the shire only has two tourism businesses, because the Council staff only mention two tourism businesses at every tourism function I attend”

“The sole purpose of the evening was to justify Council employees jobs, with numbers that don’t reflect my bottom line”

“Now we never see Councils tourism employees except at functions”

“I wonder if the new tourism manager is allowed to visit the dark side, and meet real tourism business owners”

“I wish the best for the new tourism manager but she didn’t talk”

"Strategies, strategies, strategies, consultants, consultants, consultants what about people who have tourism businesses”

“Natalie Goddard from Eden gave a great talk on Cruise ship operations and possibilities for Batemans Bay”

“Embarrassing for tourism business owners to hear Council congratulate themselves and their work, when they have done nothing for my business of over 10 years, this is the worst it has been , can't they see businesses closing” The second get together to learn of the Eurobodalla Strategy development milestones and Cruise Industry update is scheduled for Wednesday 5th June at the Narooma Golf Club.

#Opinion #Council

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