Shellharbour's tourism economy expands to $67m

Shellharbour councillors have endorsed the work of Tourism Shellharbour and its board as the contribution of tourism to Shellharbour City’s economy grew to $67 million in the 2012-13 financial year, up 13.5 per cent on the previous year.

Shellharbour City Council entered into a five-year memorandum of understanding with Tourism Shellharbour in May 2013 and provides $225,000 to the organisation annually.

Councillor Kellie Marsh said she was ‘‘happy and confident’’ in the job Tourism Shellharbour, the board and its volunteers were doing after a report detailing the value of tourism to the city was presented to councillors on Tuesday night.

Cr David Boyle said the report showed that when it came to tourism, the city was in good hands.

The endorsement was in stark contrast to that of neighbouring Kiama council which last month suspended its three representatives from the board of Kiama Tourism as it reviews how it spends more than $300,000 worth of public money it now allocates to the Kiama organisation.

The suspension of the Kiama council representatives came in the wake of council concerns regarding  ‘‘ongoing problems’’ the Kiama board appeared to be having.

Despite the glowing endorsement of Tourism Shellharbour’s operations, Shellharbour councillor Peter Moran questioned the benefits Shellharbour council itself received from spending $225,000 on tourism.

‘‘If the council didn’t provide $225,000 would [tourism] stop?’’ he asked.

‘‘If the money is so vital and so effective then why don’t we give a million dollars a year?’’

The council’s general manager Michael Willis said he was happy with the return the council was getting from its investment in Tourism Shellharbour.

‘‘As important as it is the council supports tourism, we have to support other things as well,’’ Mr Willis said.

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