Tourism Noosa’s (TN) funding will not increase for the next two years – and closer scrutiny and more regular reporting will be required.
TN will again receive $2,520,000 from July 2023, but stronger governance will be applied from council, and performance reporting will be doubled to quarterly from its current former half-yearly requirement.
But councillors, while unanimously* endorsing the staff recommendation, expressed some concerns over how the Destination Management Plan (DMP) might affect ongoing operations, and sought to ensure that both TN and council – TN’s main funding body – might need to alter the new agreement.
The DMP is due for completion “later this year”, according to Kim Rawlings, who spoke on behalf of the absent CEO Scott Waters at council’s General Committee meeting on April 17.
Deputy mayor Frank Wilkie underlined the importance of continued tourism funding, citing an example in the US state of Colorado where, late last century having achieved its aims, the state cancelled further tourism funding, only to find its income dropping by 30% over the following three years – and taking another 15 years to recover despite immediately re-introducing the funding.
Cr Brian Stockwell said the new Corporate Plan, despite its current draft form, would provide all the principles of advice for TN to follow in the meantime and that the Destination Management Plan should link TN and council in the future to “balance the quality of life of residents with tourism”.
Cr Amelia Lorentson, who has had the elected role of council observer for the TN board for more than three years, said as a result she saw Noosa as “the best place to live on Earth”, and that tourism injected $1.6 billion into the local economy and was “everyone’s business” here.
Cr Lorentson said 3240 jobs in Noosa Shire were directly involved in the tourism economy, excluding indirect employment, and represented 13% of total employment, our third-largest employer behind the health and social services sectors.
She emphasised the importance of gathering and understanding tourism data and for tourists to “experience the protection of our beaches, ocean, national parks, trails, our rivers and creeks”.
“If we lose that we lose our edge,” Cr Lorentson said.
“And our environment is under threat; when it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Cr Lorentson said while day trippers will always visit Noosa, they spend on average $105 a day, versus higher-value interstate visitors who stay longer and spend an average $1965.
*Mayor Clare Stewart declared a conflict of interest due to a new director of Tourism Noosa and LNP political aspirant, Leigh McCready, being a friend, while Cr Karen Finzel declared Ms McCready had been involved in her 2020 election campaign. Neither participated in discussion of this meeting item.