A Western Australian tourism group has gone out of business due to lack of funding and operational issues despite surging tourism fueled by record numbers of intra-state travel.
- Amazing South Coast Tourism Inc members voted to cease operations in July
- Financial and operational difficulties were cited as the cause of the group’s decision
- ASC has represented over 100 local tourism operators and events
Amazing South Coast Tourism Inc (ASC) was formed in July 2018 to combine tourism marketing for three local government regions: Albany, Denmark and Plantagenet.
ASC has represented more than 100 tourism operators, including accommodation providers, wineries and restaurants, and has produced promotional material for radio, print and social media.
The group has also hosted local events such as the Porongurup Wine Festival, the Albany Classic car racing event, the Denmark Festival of Voice and Taste Great Southern.
At the end of July, the group’s board of directors voted in favor of winding up its activities, citing financial problems due to declining memberships and staff resignations.
A loss for the region
Shelley Code is the coordinator of the Porongorup Wine Festival and owns Jingalla Wines where the festival took place this year.
She said the ASC closure was sad for local events.
“The financial support they have given us has certainly enabled us to spend this money on promoting the festival and the region,” said Ms. Code.
She said that without the help of the tourism group, the promotion of the festival would not have been so strong.
“The name of the Porongorup festival would not be known to the wider community,” she said.
During her 40 years in the industry, she said she saw many tour groups come and go.
“Every few years we seem to have an advocacy body whether it’s tourism or the wine industry that starts up,” Ms. Code said.
Two months ago, the ASC notified its members of the board’s intention to unsubscribe citing a series of “difficulties”.
An information memorandum consulted by the ABC reveals that a majority of the 297 members of Denmark Tourism Inc, of which the ASC was a parent organization, chose not to transfer their memberships to the ASC, leaving a significant gap in expected income from memberships.
A series of resignations and protracted recruitment processes resulted in losses of “momentum”, “visibility”, “administrative support” and experience, according to the memorandum.
The inability to attract board members from the regions of Denmark and Plantagenet – a requirement under the constitution – as well as the “continued failure” to provide a user-friendly ASC website have also led upon its disappearance.
Tourist groups still needed
ACS President and one of its founding members, Peter Snow, said he was disappointed with the decision.
“You would learn a number of lessons from that,” Snow said.
He said the effect of the ASC shutdown would not be noticeable in the short term thanks to the current boom in domestic travel, but said ongoing campaigns and promotional material were needed.
Mr. Snow said he believed the concept of the ASC was right.
“The most effective way to market an area is to have crowdfunding in one pot,” he said.
“It’s about getting people to think outside of their own little realms.”
ASC has received support, including financial support, from the city of Albany and the counties of Denmark and Plantagenet.
Mr Snow said part of the remaining funding would be used by Great Southern Tourism Events Inc, which would continue to operate.
The group achieved its goal
Peter Grigg was CEO of ASC from February 2019 until December of last year.
“The work that was done over the funding period provided to them was a fantastic effort to achieve exactly what its intention was – to market this region as a destination in its own right,” Mr. Grigg said.
He said the group’s shutdown has divided the market.
He said that if member-based organizations did not continually make themselves attractive to their members, they risked losing their base.
“There are always other things that attract companies to where they invest their money,” Mr. Grigg said.
“We’ve had COVID for two years and there have been all kinds of local businesses that have really struggled to continue.”