Kiama to ponder use of tourism funds

The Kiama Blowhole earlier this month. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

The Kiama Blowhole earlier this month. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Kiama councillors will consider on Tuesday night how to spend more than $300,000 worth of public money now allocated to Kiama Tourism.

The move follows a "strategic review" of Kiama Municipal Council's tourism spend, sparked earlier this year by council concerns over "ongoing problems" the Kiama Tourism board appeared to be having.

Kiama Council withdrew its three delegates from the Kiama Tourism board while the strategic review took place.

An independent report by Jenny Rand and Associates found "the absence of open communication and a close working relationship between Kiama Council and Kiama Tourism" was a significant impediment to product and market development and the resultant expansion of the tourism sector.

Concerns were raised about the board's move to make the tourism manager's position redundant and transfer these duties to the visitor information centre manager, with the intention of having board members take on more responsibility such as representing Kiama on external committees.

"The proposed restructure has the potential to further reduce the expertise and resources available for providing input into product and infrastructure development and undertaking marketing and promotion," the review said.

The 84-page review concludes that "retaining the status quo" was not an option for Kiama Council.

However, it stops short of making a recommendationon the most effective way for the council to support what has become Kiama's strongest industry.

Instead councillors will consider three options.

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

The second option 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.

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