Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Tourism in Turmoil

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Tourism in Turmoil

Article excerpt

Byline: JEREMY SOLLARS and CASANDRA GARVEY

THE head of the region's peak tourism body has fired the latest salvo in the battle over marketing and promotions, telling Granite Belt operators they behave "as though they are God's gift to tourism".

Margaret Cairns, who chairs Southern Downs Granite Belt Regional Tourism (SDGBRT), spoke to the Daily News after the first of a series of meetings to thrash out reforms to the complex structure of tourism bodies charged with promoting Warwick and Stanthorpe.

The outspoken Mrs Cairns, who runs Goomburra Forest Retreat north of Warwick, was reacting to criticism from Stanthorpe operators fed up with having to pay separate annual fees to both SDGBRT and to their local body Granite Belt Wine Tourism (GBWT).

GBWT is an official body recognised by State Government agency Tourism Queensland and differs from Warwick's local promoter Warwick Tourism and Events, which is a council agency.

Mrs Cairns conceded some Granite Belt tourism businesses felt her regional body was "useless" but insisted its role was critical.

"Tourism Queensland only funds regional tourism organisations like SDGBRT, not local ones," she said.

"We get $200,000 a year in base funding, plus additional grants for specific projects Co recently there was a total of $530,000 granted to eight regional bodies to re-vamp their websites.

"Granite Belt operators grumble that we cannot guarantee funding for the next three to five years, but who can do that in any industry?

"They just think they're God's gift to tourism."

Mrs Cairns said ideally there would be one regional body to which all affiliated Southern Downs tourism businesses paid a membership fee, but with separate marketing "desks" for Warwick and Stanthorpe.

This is a sentiment echoed by Warwick Tourism and Events chief executive officer Bev Marston, who urged those with ideas for a better model to come forward during a public meeting tonight. …

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