10 August 2023

Tourism body wants clarity from council about tourism plans

| Gail Eastaway
Start the conversation
TSM considers its marketing options with reduced council funding.

Tourism Snowy Mountains is asking for funding clarity from Snowy Monaro Regional Council. Photo: Tourism Snowy Mountains.

Tourism Snowy Mountains (TSM), the driving force behind building the tourism industry in the Snowy Monaro region for more than 20 years, is calling on Snowy Monaro Regional Council (SMRC) to clarify its intentions for tourism development in the area.

The Snowy Mountains region has long been recognised as a premier tourist destination, with tourism being the greatest contributor to the regional economy. According to visitor statistics from Destination NSW, for the 12 months to September 2022, 1.7 million visitors flocked to the Snowy Mountains.

On average, visitors spent $339 per night and stayed 3.8 nights, culminating in $1.4 billion in visitor expenditure. This is substantial growth from 2019 when the visitor economy was worth $700 million.

READ ALSO Boots to scrubs: Scholarship smooths path for rural women to fill regional GP void

TSM chair, Janet Mackay said, “Despite tourism being a crucial economic pillar for the Snowy Monaro region, SMRC has allocated only $70,000 for tourism development in its latest operating budget.

“Regrettably, with the exception of $5000, this funding has not been earmarked for TSM, the organisation that has spearheaded tourism growth in the region for over two decades.

“There is now uncertainty surrounding how SMRC intends to spend the tourism allocation and how it plans to promote the region effectively with this limited funding and SMRC’s lack of specialist tourism marketing staff,” she said.

As an organisation committed to building a sustainable year-round visitor economy in the Snowy Mountains, TSM collaborates closely with local businesses, stakeholders, and all levels of government.

READ ALSO Bombala community bares all for aged care

The not-for-profit organisation provides leadership and support to the local tourism industry through destination awareness campaigns and industry support programs. TSM’s funding partners include Snowy Hydro, Vail Resorts, Thredbo, Blyton Group, and National Parks and Wildlife Service, all of which recognise the importance of year-round tourism and the significant benefits it brings to the region.

“It is disheartening that in 2021, the SMRC chose to reduce its funding to TSM from $60,000 to $5000, an amount that fails to reflect the immense value of tourism to the Snowy Mountains and the work TSM has put into building a strong visitor economy,” Ms Mackay said.

“Recently, TSM presented a compelling business case to SMRC, demonstrating how reinstating the $60,000 funding would generate substantial growth with a remarkable return of $6.15 for every $1 invested. Despite this potential, SMRC is yet to increase its contribution beyond $5000.

“As a result of the significant reduction in financial support, it’s no longer viable for TSM to continue promoting tourism across the entire Snowy Monaro LGA.

“Consequently, the strategic decision has been made to narrow the organisation’s focus and prioritise promotion of the region’s primary visitor areas and assets. Concentrating on key locations such as the snow resorts, national park and regional hubs will enable TSM to maximise the impact of our destination marketing initiatives.

“TSM urges SMRC to reevaluate its allocation for tourism development and consider the substantial benefits and potential growth that investing in TSM will bring.

“By supporting TSM’s efforts to promote the Snowy Mountains as a premier tourist destination, SMRC will not only bolster the region’s economy but also enhance its financial sustainability. In addition, TSM calls upon SMRC to engage in open dialogue with the public regarding its plan for supporting tourism in the Snowy Monaro.”

Ms Mackay said SMRC had not yet replied to TSM’s request for clarity.

SMRC has not replied to requests for comment, however in an ABC South East interview on 5 August, SMRC Mayor, Narelle Davis, said the decision to reduce funding to TSM was made by the previous council as it was not clear where the funding was being spent.

Cr Davis also said council provided amenities which improved the visitor experience in the region.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.