Berrigan Shire considers tourism partnership with Sun Country
BERRIGAN Shire Council (BSC) will consider a proposal to partner with tourism body Sun Country on the Murray.
BSC director of technical services Matt Hansen met with Sun Country’s executive officer to discuss the plan and prepare an outline for next Wednesday’s general council meeting.
An investment in Sun Country would see Berrigan Shire aligned with Moira Shire and possibly Corowa Shire, who are also in preliminary talks with the group.
The move follows last week’s Berrigan Shire Futures Conference where tourism was identified as a key growth factor for its four towns for the next 10 years and beyond.
It also comes after a period of uncertainty surrounding the future of tourism in the area.
In BSC’s 2011-2012 management plan, current tourism providers — Tocumwal on the Murray and Cobram Barooga Accommodation Group — were not allocated their annual grant of $126,000.
While it is still unclear how that money will be distributed, Mr Hansen said the ‘‘rug would not be pulled out’’ from under the groups altogether.
‘‘Council is working hard to come up with a plan that works for everyone and is in the best interest of promoting the area in the future.
‘‘We have a commitment to Tocumwal on the Murray and the Accommodation Group. At this stage council are only looking at various options, no decision has been made or will be made without consultation.
‘‘We are trying to be as above board as possible. Tocumwal on the Murray and the Accommodation Group have both received copies of the (Sun Country) proposal and know exactly what is going on,’’ he said.
Mr Hansen said council faced the difficult decision of how best to invest funding for tourism to get maximum results.
Despite the groups ‘‘working very hard’’, Mr Hansen said the concern was that tourism for the shire was ‘‘a little unfocused’’ and not working in the most cost effective manner.
He said another factor for consideration was the decline in local industry contribution.
According to Mr Hansen, Tocumwal on the Murray was set up by council in partnership with private enterprise.
He said it was ‘‘disappointing’’ to see a ‘‘marked decline’’ in business subsidy.
‘‘We understand that times have been tough. We are in the position now where council contribute approximately $88,000 and local business $12,000, which is no longer a partnership,’’ Mr Hansen said.
The Sun Country proposal will be tabled at next week’s meeting and Mr Hansen said it is likely council will move to establish a shire-wide tourism forum calling for input from a cross section of the community.
The consultation would focus on the potential benefit of having cross border tourism connections and would also look at each town having a smaller visitor information centre within a business in town.