WA tourism group shuts despite record tourism boom

Published on : Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A Western Australian tourism group has ceased trading citing a lack of funding and operational issues despite skyrocketing tourism fuelled by record numbers in intrastate travel.

Amazing South Coast Tourism Inc (ASC) was formed in July 2018 to combine tourism marketing for three local government areas: Albany, Denmark and Plantagenet.

ASC represented more than 100 tourism operators including accommodation providers, wineries and restaurants and produced promotional material for radio, print, and social media.

The group also organisedlocal events such as the Porongurup Wine Festival, car racing event Albany Classic, Denmark Festival of Voice, and Taste Great Southern.

At the end of July, the group’s board voted to wind up its operation citing financialissues due to membershipdeclineand staff resignations.

Shelley Code is the coordinator for the Porongorup Wine Festival and owns Jingalla Wines where the festival was held this year.

She said ASC’s closure was sad for local events.

“The financial support they gave us certainly allowed us to spend that money in promoting the festival and the region,” Ms Code said.

She said without the tourism group’s help the festival promotion would not have been as strong.
“The Porongorupfestivalname wouldn’t be out there to some of the broader community,” she said.
During her 40 years in the industry, she said she had seen many tourism groups come and go.

“Every few years we seem to have a promotional body whether it’s tourism or wine industry that starts up,” Ms Code said.

“Then mostly forlack of funding they seem to close down … and it just saddens me.”

Two months ago, ASC notified its members of the board’s intention toderegisterciting a range of “difficulties”.
A background memorandum seen by the ABC reveals a majority of the 297 members of Denmark Tourism Inc, of which ASC was a parent organisation, chose not to roll over their memberships into ASC leaving a significant gap in expected membership revenue.

Amazing South Coast was formed in 2018 to promote tourism in Albany, Denmark, and Plantagenet.A series of resignations and prolonged recruitment processes led to losses of “momentum”, “visibility”, “administrative support” and experience, the memorandum said.

Inability to attract board members from the Denmark and Plantagenet areas — a requirement under the constitution — as well as “the ongoing failure” to deliver a user-friendly ASC website also led to its demise.

ACS’s chairman and one of its founding members, Peter Snow, said he was disappointed with the decision.
“There are a number of lessons you would learn from this,” Mr Snow said.

He said the effect of ASC’s closure would not be noticeable in the short term thanks to the current boom in domestic travel but he said ongoing campaigns and promotional material were necessary.

“You can’t just continue to hope people will come without reminding them of the things that are in the region,” he said.

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