'Business as usual' for Kiama Tourism

Major tourist destination the Kiama Blowhole. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Major tourist destination the Kiama Blowhole. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Kiama Tourism chairman Brian Longbottom has said it is business as usual while Kiama Municipal Council reviews how it will spend more than $300,000 in funding that has been allocated to the organisation.

Earlier this month, Kiama councillors deferred a decision on how to spend the funds pending talks with Kiama Tourism and councillor workshops.

At the August meeting, councillors were presented with a strategic review of the council's tourism spend, sparked by concerns over continuing problems that the Kiama Tourism board appeared to be having.

The report found that "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 expansion of the tourism sector in Kiama.

Mr Longbottom said tourists did not stop coming to Kiama while the process was worked through.

"Tourism is a part of the fabric of our local community with benefits including economic and cultural contributions," Mr Longbottom said.

"The Kiama Tourism Board operates well and any inefficiencies were dealt with earlier in the year."

Mr Longbottom said Kiama Tourism had talked to the council about the future of tourism funding and had submitted documents for consideration.

"This includes highlighting a number of inaccuracies that were contained in the independent consultant report," he said.

"We welcome moves to review and refine the way tourism funding is allocated and administered between our two organisations.

"Much has changed since the current arrangement was established 25 years ago and therefore processes and protocols do need to be updated to reflect the environment in which we now operate."

At the August meeting, councillors were presented with three options on tourism funds.

The first was to formalise the existing funding arrangement with Kiama Tourism and put in place a performance-based funding agreement.

The second option was to establish an in-house Tourism Unit at the council to take over the activities of Kiama Tourism as well as provide tourism input for other council functions and activities.

A third option was to split the functions between Kiama council and Kiama Tourism

Mr Longbottom said the board supported a structured arrangement with appropriate levels of reporting between the council and Kiama Tourism.

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