Jones quiet on revamp
Minister still tight-lipped on possible tourism industry shake-up
TOURISM Minister Kate Jones has remained tightlipped on her knowledge of an impending major shake-up for the industry in the Darling Downs.
The minister’s silence on the issue comes after last week’s revelations that there had been discussions between the state government and council-funded Southern Queensland Country Tourism and the privately-run Tourism Darling Downs to form a new entity.
When asked by The Chronicle to comment on the government’s role and understanding of a potential merger, Ms Jones instead deflected to discuss the latest tourism figures.
The State Government has contributed $475,000 to SCQT’s budget for 2018-19, roughly matched by several local councils across south-west Queensland, including Toowoomba.
This represented a drop from the contribution of $520,000 in 2018 and $505,000 in 2017, which is featured in the tourism body’s latest annual report.
Discussion and rumours around a potential shake-up have been fuelled by the departure of TDD CEO Ruth Wetmore, and questions over the future of her counterpart at SQCT Mary-Clare Power.
Ms Wetmore confirmed to The Chronicle on Thursday she had returned to Sydney, having reached the end of her contract with the organisation founded by John Wagner 18 months ago.
“The bottom line is what I and John wanted was to give tourism a massive boost and let it continue in an entity that could be funded for the future,” she said.
Southern Queensland Country Tourism chair Jane Summers said she had invited TDD to be part of a strategic planning meeting on January 24, adding that she believed Ms Power would see out her contract.
Toowoomba councillors like Geoff McDonald and Joe Ramia have both expressed interest in seeing both organisations work more closely together, but neither could confirm if a meeting had occurred.