What does the “tourism” in the recently advertised “Tourism and Economic Development Officer” (TEDO) role at Douglas Shire Council represent?
The advertising of a TEDO role on the Council website last month led to questions being raised as to whether Mayor Kerr had a sufficient understanding of what it is to own, operate, work for, market or sell a tourism product in the Douglas Shire, coupled with, as previously explored, a seemingly inadequate understanding of what TPDD do outside the bubble of Douglas Shire.
Mayor Kerr’s implementation of a TEDO was an election promise, however, given the role attracts an $84,000 per annum, plus superannuation salary, questions must be raised as to why such a significantly salaried role was not discussed with the other Councillors as part of budget deliberations, particularly when the budget is careening toward a $1.3 million forecasted end of year deficit.
Whilst many, including myself, agree the need for a skilled Economic Development Officer is necessary to expedite the economic diversification of the Shire and encourage appropriate investment in the region, the addition of the “tourism” component could be seen as a mechanism to substantially reduce or defund TPDD and possibly transfer control of destination marketing to an amalgamated Council department.
The TEDO position description outlined the purpose of the role was primarily expanding employment opportunities, economic diversification, advocacy for businesses and investors, and assisting the Community and Economic Development Team in achieving Council’s Economic Development Strategy.
Question – Where is the tourism component purpose?
On a second read, the tourism contribution to the role is attending, “trade expos, tourism industry conventions to promote the region and relevant conferences to promote the Shire,” whilst working with tourism bodies (not TPDD?), Chamber of Commerce, industry leaders, business and the community.
As discussed in Saturday’s column, I can assure readers TPDD already does this, among a myriad of other functions, guided by an exceptionally experienced and well-connected CEO and professional board.
Moving on to the level of tourism experience required. Under ‘Essential’ – none. ‘Desirable but not Essential’ – “demonstrated experience in tourism,” is the only stipulation for applicants explicitly cited in the position description.
Council, and the TEDO, are in for a reality check if they believe a TEDO with little to no tourism qualifications can competently attend, “tourism industry conventions to promote the region,” successfully engage in meaningful dialogue resulting in positive tourism outcomes for the destination and attend to the 19 ‘Key Duties and Responsibilities’ as outlined in the position description inside a 36.25 hour week, 9-day fortnight. This expectation is absurd, and given the level of economic development, KPIs attached to the role, altogether fanciful.
When considering all points explored, I have been forced to ask myself, as both a former tourism manager, employee, and current tourism business owner/operator – where does this leave the Douglas Shire in terms of critical destination marketing coming out of an unprecedented global disaster, when one of the region’s biggest players, Quicksilver, believe, “it is very important to maintain funding for TPDD so they can continue to be a strong voice for the region through what will be a slow recovery in a very competitive market place“ (Tony Baker, Managing Director, The Quicksilver Group)?
In terms of expansive, professional, and competent destination marketing – potentially underfunded or totally unfunded without, at the time of writing, any public consultation from those at the coalface. Close to fifteen years of industry affirmed, exceptional work, relationship building, and management, lost. A lack of experienced and knowledgeable industry support, guidance, and advocacy of both the big players and the little guys, and a TEDO with no pre-requisite tourism experience promoting our destination.
Is TPDD’s funding under threat? It certainly appears so.