Destination Wollongong has a new-look board and a new five-year funding agreement with Wollongong City Council.
After Destination Wollongong members unanimously agreed to make changes to the constitution, the new agreement was signed requiring existing directors to vacate their positions.
An application process was then undertaken to recruit a new board to guide Destination Wollongong's strategic direction which includes a new focus on cycling as the city prepares to host the UCI Road World Cycling Championships in September 2022.
Former directors Cr Leigh Colacino, Tania Brown, Wayne Morris, Renee Campbell have been re-appointed and will be joined by new directors Simon Kersten, Graeme Sutherland and Angie Ruperto. Colin Bloomfield, Steve Savic, Amy Harper, Leigh Hingston and Sharon Arrow decided to step aside and the new smaller board will meet for the first time next Thursday when a new chair and deputy chair will be elected.
Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh said it was a time of renewal for the tourism and hospitality sector after a challenging 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said business event acquisition will also be enhanced under the new agreement with council. He said as the highest yielding sector of the visitor economy, business events support midweek visitation which is vital to the prosperity of local hotels and motels and create an argument for enhanced infrastructure.
Mr Sleigh said the new board brings extensive experience which will be vitally important for Wollongong post COVID-19. And the new focus will compliment the tourist association's other focuses on destination marketing, major event acquisition and business attraction.
Colliers International's Simon Kersten believes his development and cycling background will both help the board at this important time for the city. He has also been actively involved in bringing new business to the region.
Mr Kersten said it was a challenging time for the city but also a very exciting time with the UCI event something to really look forward to next year.
"People just don't comprehend how big the road world cycling championships are. They are talking 200 to 300 million television viewers around the world," he said.
Angie Ruperto lives in Wollongong and is one of more than 20,000 people who commutes to Sydney where she works in a senior marketing role for Business Events Sydney (BESydney).
When she saw the advertisement in the newspaper for expressions of interest in becoming a Destination Wollongong she saw it as an opportunity to use her experience to give back to her community.
"Wollongong is my home town and I am very proud to be a Wollongong girl. I am a very big champion of our regional city," she said.
Avid cyclist, hospitality and tourism professional and business broker Graeme Sutherland, of Tourism Property, said he was keen to see the city explore ways the cycling championships can be leveraged.
"To be able to contribute to the benefits of that is exciting. I have had a career in business events, event management and hospitality and I am aware of the importance of business events to Wollongong," he said.
Mr Sutherland is also keen to explore what the new reasons for people to visit are going to be.
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