Council has given itself until March to decided on a new model for promoting tourism in our region.
As tourism is Kiama’s major industry, the Council has long funded its promotion, with the help of a levy on commercial properties. In 2015/16, its direct expenditure on tourism amounted to $350,000.
In 2014, Council engaged a consultant to consider whether its long standing policy of entrusting the responsibility for promoting tourism to Kiama Tourism, an industry member-based organisation, was the way to continue on.
She proposed three options, and the suggestion of splitting tourism responsibilities between Kiama Tourism and Kiama Council, through the creation of a Strategic Tourism and Marketing Manager position, was chosen.
There have been difficulties with this structure due to overlapping functions since it was adopted and, as a report from the General Manager concludes, “the negatives have outweighed the positives”.
The options to be decided between are putting in place a performance-based funding agreement between Council and Kiama Tourism (this would need to be put out to tender) or Council establishing an in-house Tourism unit, with input from an industry committee.
“I think it would serve the community better to have the work done by an independent tourism body, as it had been prior to this from 1986, rather than make it a Council function,” says Kiama Tourism Chair Robert Schiaccitano.
The decision will be made at a time of significant structural change for the NSW tourism industry, as Destination NSW implements its new Destination networks.
Kiama is now part of Sydney Surrounds South, along with Wollongong, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee.
Unlike the previous regional structure, where the board was made up of delegates from each area, the new structure features boards of experienced professionals chosen by Destination NSW to work as a team.
The make up of the Sydney Surrounds South Board was announced just before Christmas. While no members are Kiama-based, it is to be chaired by prominent South Coast businessman and publican Colin Waller, owner of the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel.