Challenges ahead for local tourism industry

Financial challenges for TSM

The past four months have been very challenging for the Board of Tourism Snowy Mountains Inc. (TSM), the restructuring of Destination NSW (DNSW) funding programs over recent years, and consequently the restructuring of TSM in 2011-2013, to respond to the loss of capacity funding.

These events saw TSM make a loss of $126,000, and our equity drop to $186,000 as at June 30, 2013. Our Chair, and Board member of six years standing, David Sheldon resigned in August, and our CEO Peter Sheppard resigned in early October.

Over recent months the Board has been very focussed on building a financially sustainable organisation against this loss of experience and knowledge, and I can report is making very good progress. The 2012-13 TSM Annual Report can be found on our member's site at: http://corporate.snowymountains.com.au/

Governance changes

At the October 23 AGM, TSM members voted unanimously for a revised and updated Constitution. This mostly modernised the previous Constitution and tidied up a number of inconsistent Board rules. The new Constitution for TSM can be found in the members section of our website at: www.snowymountains.com.au

The Board has over recent months also made some changes to Directors roles and has elected Wayne Hart as Chair, Peter Cochran as Deputy Chair, Joan Bird as Public Officer and Secretary, with Janette Raedel continuing as Treasurer.

Wayne amongst other things is a researcher in environmental science at the University of Canberra, while Peter, Joan, and Janette are small business owners and operators in the region.

Focus and Leadership - Executive Officer

The Snowy Mountains Visitor Region comprises the shires of Tumbarumba, Tumut, Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River, which of course includes the Kosciuszko National Park. We have realigned the focus of TSM to provide a special emphasis on support for members and stakeholders in this region and this will comprise mostly:

* Development support through marketing and educational seminars,

* Assistance with accessing Destination New South Wales marketing grants, and

* Growing and supporting our membership

The Board has advertised for a restructured position on SEEK and local newspapers, and invites members to make potential candidates they know aware of this recruitment. Applications close on November 25 by email to tsm@snowymountains.com.au

The interim period

Our Administration Manager, Jacqui will be supported by Board members undertaking various executive roles and in particular the Board Chair. In addition the Board has formed a Business Growth Committee with Directors Heath Woolley, Peter Cochran, and Joan Bird who will immediately begin to develop member growth programs, and support the Executive Officer in this work when he or she is appointed.

The regional visitor economy fund program

DNSW has made available for application up to $308,000 in grant funding for applications made by TSM in conjunction with Snowy Mountains Tourism organisations, to be completed by November 29. TSM is well advanced in putting together applications for this funding and is working with a number of organisations who make significant contribution to both the snow sports and general tourism sectors throughout the region. The next round of grants closes on January 31 and is open to all applicants in NSW. The qualification rules are essentially the same except that applicants only work with a regional tourism organisation such as TSM if they wish to.

All applications for grants must exceed a threshold of $50,000 and are granted on a dollar for dollar basis, which means applications must be for projects exceeding $100,000 with the applicant putting in $50,000 to the project.

This threshold creates problems for small business programs and so an important new role for TSM is to coordinate the interests of small businesses into group projects that exceed the DNSW threshold.

If you would like to be involved on a dollar for dollar basis in a composite regional marketing project you can find out more about the program from our members website at http://corporate.snowymountains.com.au or contact us at tsm@snowymountains.com.au

The future

Our immediate tasks include supporting grant applications and recruiting our new EO. Next year will see us introduce a seminar series across the region. If you have a particular topic you would like us to cover or would like to present on yourself, please contact us at tsm@snowymountains.com.au. We envisage presentations on subjects such as how to best use government grant programs, how to manage your business through uncertain events such as weather or economic challenges, developing marketing plans for small business, and like events.

We have lost some momentum over recent months with the financial loss and the Board and management changes however I trust that upon reading this newsletter you can see that the Board is building a resilient plan for TSM and the region for the months and years ahead.

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