Kiama Tourism decision on hold

A DECISION on how to spend more than $300,000 allocated to Kiama Tourism has been deferred, with further discussions due to take place. 

On Tuesday night,  Kiama Council was due to consider a report reviewing how more than $300,000 is spent on Kiama Tourism.

The current funding structure between council and Kiama Tourism has been in place for more than 25 years.

In March, council resolved to undertake a full strategic review of the funding for tourism provided by council using an independent external consultant, and the review include structures and options best for tourism.

The review came as a result of concerns regarding “ongoing problems” with Kiama Tourism’s board.

In 2013/14, council provided Kiama Tourism with direct funding of $306,500.

Following the deferral, council slated further discussions with Kiama Tourism today,  and a councillor briefing is planned for Monday. 

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said the matter was to be discussed further. 

“We’ve got Kiama Tourism, which is a standalone independent body, we’ve got leases with them of the Blowhole Point Visitors Centre and café, and they’ve got staff, and we want to be sure that we make sure whatever we end up doing we work with them to make sure we can continue to provide the services to the tourism industry,” he said. 

“We want to deal with it as quickly as we can, but because it’s a fairly complex issue, we want to make sure we’ve addressed all the issues that could be involved.

“The options in the report will require a fair bit of study.

“The report itself was a comprehensive one. 

“It looked at a range of issues, and also indicated that it was probably opportune to have a review, given the way local government and tourist development has headed in the past 20 years.

“It’s moved quite a way away from the model which we have here at the moment, which we set up some 20-25 years ago.” 

The independent report by Jenny Rand and Associates review concluded “retaining the status quo” was not an option for council.

review concludes “retaining the status quo” was not an option for council.

Instead, councillors are considering three options.

One is to formalise the existing funding arrangement with Kiama Tourism and put in place a performance-based funding agreement.

The second is to establish an in-house tourism unit at the council to undertake the activities currently being undertaken by Kiama Tourism as well as provide tourism input for other council functions and activities.

A third option is to split the functions between Kiama Council and Kiama Tourism. 

Kiama Tourism chairman Brian Longbottom declined to comment.

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