THE state government’s tourism arm has fired back at Tourism Hunter Chairman Will Creedon, saying there has been money on the table for the region for the last two years but the organisation has been unable to secure support from the industry.
But Mr Creedon said Destination NSW was trying to ‘‘misdirect’’ the problem and had made the issue about money when it was about policy.
‘‘It’s a pity they have missed the point,’’ Mr Creedon said.
‘‘The problem is we have to create a new policy framework to set ourselves up to be consistently proactive and reach our potential.
‘‘The policy is wrong, let’s look at it and update it for the future - that is the problem.
‘‘You could put $100 million on the table tomorrow for a marketing campaign, but if we’re not allowed to touch it and there is no money to pay the person to coordinate it because of the policy framework then what good is it?’’
Regardless, Mr Creedon said his fight was not with Destination NSW but with policy makers.
‘‘Destination NSW work to implement a policy created by the state government,’’ Mr Creedon said.
‘‘In this instance we have a poor regional tourism organisational structure policy.
‘‘Tourism Hunter is looking to the state government to create a policy that will lead to a sustainable regional tourism model so our region can reach its potential.
‘‘I have no doubt the tourism agency of NSW does its best to work within its framework. ‘‘This is not aimed at the agency, it’s aimed at fundamentally changing the policy and the model of tourism structure in regional NSW.’’
The Newcastle Herald reported on Friday that Tourism Hunter would enter a period of ‘‘dormancy’’ until a sustainable regional tourism model was implemented by the state government.
Destination NSW Chief Executive Sandra Chipchase responded on Friday by saying about $1.6 million had been on the table for Tourism Hunter to access for the past two years in matched dollar-for-dollar funding available under the government’s Regional Visitor Economy Fund (RVEF).
‘‘Over the last two financial years Tourism Hunter has only applied for 10.9 per cent of this available funding,’’ Ms Chipchase said.
‘‘Tourism Hunter has been unable to secure the support of the industry in order to gather funds to match those available from the NSW government, to support campaigns, develop a business plan and marketing activities and to appoint staff to coordinate their strategic and operational responsibilities.’’
Mr Creedon strongly disputed Tourism Hunter lacked the support of the industry and provided several messages from local tourism organisations who backed the organisation and the move to go into ‘‘dormancy’’.
Newcastle Tourism Industry Group Chairperson Matt Anderson told the Herald the organisation supported the need for reform.
‘‘While it is quiet dramatic there is definitely a need for change,’’ Mr Anderson said.
‘‘The regional tourism organisation situation as it exists needs to be improved.
‘‘And the move by Tourism Hunter will hopefully be the catalyst for change which wasn’t on the horizons prior to this move.’’
The Chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine Country Marketing Committee Philip Hele said what Tourism Hunter had done was ‘‘commendable’’.
‘‘We are disappointed that [Tourism Hunter] had to go into dormancy, but we will support what they are doing,’’ Mr Hele said.
‘‘The region needs a sustainable structure going forward and it is not there at the moment.
‘‘Everyone is chasing capacity funding but it’s not there. ‘‘That’s the level of funding where you can actually market the region rather than just keep the doors open.’’
Mr Creedon also provided an email on Friday from Destination Port Stephens Chairman Michael Aylmer who said he had his ‘‘total support’’ and that the region could ‘‘only benefit from this’’.
Mr Creedon also provided an email on Friday showing he had the ‘‘total support’’ of Destination Port Stephens Chairman Michael Aylmer.
Ms Chipchase said for the past two years Destination NSW had undertaken a number of ‘‘activities’’ at its own expense to assist the region.
‘‘Despite Tourism Hunter’s lack of action to access the funds available to them, Destination NSW has consistently promoted the region as one of the state’s major tourism destinations both domestically and internationally and is dedicated to seeing tourism prosper in this important part of the State’s visitor economy,’’ Ms Chipchase said.
The claims made by the Hunter Regional Tourism Organisation (Tourism Hunter), which appeared in Sam Rigney’s article on Friday 12 June, (‘State ‘missing’ in tourism’) are incorrect.
Approximately $1.6 million has been on the table for the last two years for Tourism Hunter to access in matched dollar-for-dollar funding available for The Hunter Region under the NSW Government’s
Regional Visitor Economy Fund (RVEF). Over the last two financial years Tourism Hunter has only applied for 10.9 per cent of this available funding.
Tourism Hunter has been unable to secure the support of the industry in order to gather funds to match those available from the NSW Government, to support campaigns, develop a business plan and marketing activities, and to appoint staff to coordinate their strategic and operational responsibilities.
Over the past two years Destination NSW has undertaken a number of activities at its own expense to assist the Region, including providing a consultant to review The Hunter’s regional tourism structure and provide recommendations about how it might be better served.
Despite Tourism Hunter’s lack of action to access the funds available to them, Destination NSW has consistently promoted The Hunter Region as one of the State’s major tourism destinations both domestically and internationally, and is dedicated to seeing tourism prosper in this important part of the State’s visitor economy.
We have undertaken several cooperative marketing campaigns with other tourism groups including Port Stephens, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, and invested in many major events and Regional Flagship Events in the Region.
In addition, Destination NSW, not Tourism Hunter, developed a proposal to the NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events for the recently announced $1 million in funding to assist the Region to recover following the recent storms.
I also met with hotels and accommodation providers in The Hunter on Friday to help develop a way forward for tourism in the Region.
As the State’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW remains focused on growing tourism across NSW and we are always willing to work with any group or groups that have as their objective the promotion of Newcastle and The Hunter.
Sandra Chipchase, Chief Executive Officer, Destination NSW