Kiama vote freezes $300k tourism spend

The Kiama Blowhole earlier this month. Picture: ADAM McLEAN
The Kiama Blowhole earlier this month. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Kiama councillors have deferred a decision on how to spend more than $300,000 allocated to Kiama Tourism pending talks and councillor workshops.

On Tuesday night, councillors were presented with a "strategic review" of Kiama Municipal Council's tourism spend, sparked by council concerns over "ongoing problems" the Kiama Tourism board appeared to be having.

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said a councillor workshop was planned for Monday, but given the complexities of the issue, councillors may need more than one.

Cr Petschler said the review gave the council an opportunity to review its approach to tourism, which he said had grown to be Kiama's "biggest business", taking precedence over rural industries.

"The report highlights the need for highly professional managers to run tourism promotion," Cr Petschler said. "It also questions if the money council is investing in tourism is sufficient ... the report suggests this is something we should be looking at."

The independent report by Jenny Rand and Associates suggested three options for the promotion of tourism in Kiama.

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

Second is to establish a council unit to do the work being done by Kiama Tourism as well as provide tourism input for other council functions and activities.

Third is to split the functions between Kiama Council and Kiama Tourism.

Cr Petschler said each option had a different effect on the council and Kiama Tourism, which faced staffing issues.

Kiama councillor Mark Way, a former Kiama Tourism board member, said it was "a fantastic report" and said views would be thrashed out at Monday's meeting.

"My preferred option would see council hiring a professional tourism manager to look after the marketing," Cr Way said.

"Kiama is a naturally beautiful place that promotes itself but we need to market it professionally to get tourists to stay longer and spend more money in town."

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