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Tourism – Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Tourism

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania states publicly, and to inquiries from the public, that they receive no Government funding, and that they are not for profit; and so have no requirement to produce an annual financial report for members. The TICT denies its own members that report, when it is requested. As you know, Tourism Tasmania is a state authority run by Government, and Tourism Tasmania's annual report shows that it contributes $200 000 each year to the Tourism Industry Council. Are you able to tell the committee what accountability there is for the TICT to report on this expenditure of public funds?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I am advised that the TICT is an important part in the development and implementation of the T21 strategy, which was spoken about before, to support the sustainable growth of Tasmania's visitor economy. We have provided $600 000 funding -

Ms O'CONNOR - Over what period?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Support for the three years to 30 June, 2022, to assist the TICT to deliver three specific programs for the benefit of Tasmania's tourism industry. That is administered via a grant deed by Tourism Tasmania. Funding has been paid in annual instalments of $200 000, which I think is where you are getting your $200 000 from, is it?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Supporter programs include: administration of the National Quality Tourism Accreditation Program in Tasmania; sponsorship of the state's major tourism event, the Tasmanian tourism conference held annually in Launceston; and sponsorship of the Tasmanian tourism awards, with winners progressing to the national titles. Quality tourism accreditation provides a practical program for tourism operators to develop business and operational plans aimed at raising professionalism and improved business operations to deliver quality service.

Now, the funding contribution for the accreditation program has been $120 000 annually, which enables the TICT to deliver the program at an affordable rate for tourism operators. We have 1 050 businesses that are currently involved in the accreditation program and its various specialised modules, representing 1 150 tourism products and experiences as businesses may have multiple products under one accreditation. Given the important support and advocacy role TICT provides for the industry, especially at this critical time given the disruption that we have had with respect to the pandemic, I am advised that a similar level of funding will be negotiated each year.

Ms O'CONNOR - We have just established that TICT CEO, Luke Martin, has never confirmed, and that is that there is a significant level of Government funding that goes towards that industry body. This year it will be $420 000 so, over the next three years it will be more than a $1 million of public money that goes towards the TICT which does not produce an annual report or any reporting information to its members. Do you think that is satisfactory in terms of an entity that is an industry body - in significant part, funded by Government and member fees - that there is no transparency about their finances or how they spend public money?

Mr ROCKLIFF - We are all about transparency. They do have to acquit their grant deed.

Mr FITZGERALD - They have to acquit their grant deed. It is a formal grant deed. Certainly, for the $200 000 we provide them, they have to acquit that annually and indicate quite formally as to how that has gone, and have that approved by us for release.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. We get feedback from tourism industry participants about their dissatisfaction with the representation they receive from the TICT; the way it backs in the Government's native forest logging; and the way it takes public funds and is not accountable for those funds or transparent about its operations to its own members.

Finally, on this line of questioning, do you agree that there is a disconnect between the TICT CEO, Luke Martin, when he states they get zero government funding, but actually receive more than $320 000 a year, at least for the next three years, from Tourism Tasmania? Do you think that it would do the TICT well, in terms of member faith in the way it operates, to be more transparent about how it spends its public money as well as its member fees?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Thank you for the question. Mr Fitzgerald has outlined matters regarding the deed and the transparency.

Mr FITZGERALD - That is the government's funds.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I understand from your line of questioning that you are saying that some people are not happy with the TICT.

Ms O'CONNOR - They do not get an annual report and do not get accounting for the TICT's operational expenditure.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Any further information on that, Kim?

Ms O'CONNOR - Their own members, who pay fees to this organisation, get treated like mushrooms.

Mr EVANS - I just checked on the State Growth side and we have one funding deed with the TICT, which is $60 000.

Ms O'CONNOR - Annual?

Mr EVANS - No, it is a one-off with the TICT, to conduct a pilot ambassador program to develop ambassadors for the tourism industry. As Mr Fitzgerald said, that is subject to a funding deed with strict milestones and reporting requirements. For the sake of completeness, I thought I should add that.

Mr ROCKLIFF - You mentioned $320 000, Ms O'Connor. As I said, administered via grant deed by Tourism Tasmania, funding has been paid in annual installments of $200 000. When I spoke of the $120 000 funding contribution for the accreditation program, we spent $120 000 annually, enabling the TICT to deliver the program at an affordable rate for tourism operators. My advice is that that is within the $200 000.

Mr FITZGERALD - That's part of it.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The total is not $320 000; the $120 00 is within the $200 000.

Ms O'CONNOR - For clarity then, initially you said there was $200 000 per annum for three years for a range of activities. There was, then, this $120 000 which is the accreditation money, which we were told was annual. But what you are saying is the annual accreditation money is absorbed into this three-year grant of $200 000 a year?

Mr FITZGERALD - That is correct.

Mr ROCKLIFF - That is right.

Ms O'CONNOR - Are you able to make public those deeds with Tourism Industry Council, because members are really dissatisfied with the lack of transparency on the organisation's part.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Firstly, if members are dissatisfied, I would encourage them to make their feelings known to the TICT.

Ms O'CONNOR - They have, and they get fobbed off.