A peak Murray region tourism body has warned funding cuts by the New South Wales Government could put jobs and businesses at risk and threaten the visitor economy.
Murray Regional Tourism, which covers the Cobram, Barooga and Tocumwal region, said Destination NSW had placed Australia’s only highly successful cross-border tourism entity in jeopardy after the recent restructuring of regional tourism in NSW.
Despite many months of negotiation, DNSW has not committed to the provision of long-term operational funding to Murray Regional Tourism, no longer recognising or supporting the entity.
Murray Regional Tourism board chair Wendy Greiner said there were many benefits to the existing model.
‘‘The MRT model is simply the most effective way to achieve ongoing visitor growth to the Murray region,’’ she said.
‘‘It has enabled us to promote one compelling and consistent brand for the entire Murray region, creating a seamless experience for tourists.
‘‘Our fundamental aim is to maximise visitation and grow jobs in the Murray (NSW and Victoria) through the regional visitor economy.’’
The current Murray region partnership spans NSW and Victoria and has the support of all key stakeholders, including Visit Victoria, 13 NSW and Victorian local governments and local tourism operators.
Tourism accounts for 17 per cent of jobs in the region and the cross-border approach has proven highly successful, achieving an increase in total visitation from 4.5million visitors in 2011 to 5.1million in 2016, and a significant increase in total expenditure from $1.02billion in 2011 to $1.5billion in 2016.
‘‘We need Destination NSW to hear the voices of the stakeholders who have benefited significantly from the model and commit to ongoing funding for this proven approach,’’ Ms Greiner said.
Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils chair Kevin Mack said NSW local governments were calling for a review of the decision and to provide certainty to the existing MRT model.
‘‘We believe a cross-border approach is crucial to the economic success of our region,’’ Cr Mack said.
‘‘It ensures a whole of region strategic focus and a more compelling product offer to the visitor. It also improves co-ordination of activity and maximises the use of limited resources.’’
Golf on the Murray chair Greg Roberts said it was a key employer and contributor to the visitor economy.
With clubs including the Cobram Barooga Golf Club and Tocumwal Golf Club, it employs more than 1100 staff over the six clubs and generates more than 283897 visitors to NSW, which delivers more than $38million in economic benefit to the NSW economy based on room nights/average spend alone.
‘‘GOTM is concerned the decision has been made without proper consideration of the ramifications this will have on the tourism industry,’’ Mr Roberts said.
MRT has been told NSW Tourism and Major Events Minister Adam Marshall has agreed to meet with representatives from MRT and local government to discuss the proposed cessation of the cross-border entity.
They are hopeful of negotiating a positive outcome for the visitor economy in the Murray region.