Jones quiet on re­vamp

Min­is­ter still tight-lipped on pos­si­ble tourism in­dus­try shake-up

The Chronicle - - News - TOM GILLE­SPIE tom.gille­[email protected]­i­cle.com.au

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.

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