There’s a renewed commitment for stronger collaboration between Noosa Council and Tourism Noosa to shape the future of the industry in the shire.
The commitment emerged from a Council Special Meeting where councillors reviewed community and industry feedback to the draft 21-22 Council Budget.
Mayor Clare Stewart said tourism is a key economic driver and councillors are fully supportive of the industry.
“Tourism is the largest employer in the shire responsible for 3,647 direct jobs and we need to listen and engage with our tourism representatives so we can continue to have a buoyant, thriving economy,” she said.
“How we support and fund Tourism Noosa may have evolved into daily council business, but what we provide to the industry body is governed and protected by the funding agreement and that hasn’t changed,” Cr Stewart said.
Cr Amelia Lorentson, who sits as an Observer on the Tourism Noosa Board instigated a review of council’s fees and charges, specifically relating to the tourism and economic levy.
“The $2.52 million funding to Tourism Noosa is locked in, however we acknowledge that there has been some criticism for a lack of transparency and lack of consultation over the changes we are making to the tourism and economic levy,
“So in good faith to the industry, it’s important we take 12 months to review and ensure what we are implementing provides the necessary transparency and level of comfort to the industry,” Cr Lorentson said.
Tourism Noosa Chair Richard Stephens welcomed the review and council’s commitment to better engage with the tourism and economic community.
“We have had some very robust, honest discussions with council and as a result, progress has been made regarding the need for more openness and transparency of reporting from Council,”
“Council is willing to expedite talks on a new funding agreement and there’s a commitment to consult with Tourism Noosa during future budget consultation processes,” Mr Stephens said.
Cr Stewart said the industry had the expertise to promote and build capacity and councillors are fully committed to providing a level of transparency and trust to support an enduring partnership.
“We are Australia’s top tourism town, largely due to the work of Tourism Noosa and its members,” she said.
Mr Stephens said Tourism Noosa would be seeking a number of assurances in the future funding agreement.
“These will be discussed at the appropriate time, and following on from the discussions over the past week, please be assured we will continue to insist on an increased level of accountability to our community and stakeholders,
“Whilst this gives Tourism Noosa and our members a level of confidence in Noosa Council’s commitment to future funding, the question still remains as to why scrap a successful and transparent funding model in the tourism and economic levy,” Mr Stephens said.