Tourism services shake-up
GRAFTON'S visitor information centre could be closed within three years if a major restructure of tourism services is given the tick by Clarence Valley councillors today.
In May the council heard legal advice that said its deal with Clarence River Tourism did not comply with the Local Government Act and, if it wished to continue, it would need to go out to tender when funding expired in June 2014.
This meant that for the first time in 38 years the association would no longer be funded by the council.
The local authority hired a consultant to review its tourism services, with the results to be put to councillors today.
In his report to councillors, released on Friday, the council's general manager Scott Greensill recommended councillors adopt "model 2" from the Clarence Valley Tourism Services Review.
This would mean the local authority would have control over tourism and visitor services rather than it funding an external body.
The focus would be on increasing technology and could eventually lead to the axing of one of the region's two information centres.
It estimates this model would save the council $640,000 across four years.
The council currently funds the organisation to the tune of $737,000 a year.
However, the report is a devastating blow for Clarence River Tourism, which won't be allowed to make a deputation to councillors before they vote.
Manager Jenny Massie yesterday expressed her concerns about the report, which was done by the Stafford Group for $30,000, saying the data was inaccurate.
"I urge councillors to carefully consider the ramifications on the local visitor economy before making any decision to close the Grafton visitor information centre, regardless of whether the CRTA unit is merged under council," she said.
"First it was the jail, then Telstra and now Clarence Valley Council is proposing to undersell the leading industry in the region."