Tourism operators face uncertainty

Tourism Barossa board at the annual general meeting last Wednesday. Back: Tracey Low, Liz Heavey, Kylie Mansfield (deputy chairman), Jon Durdin (chairman), Michael Ludlow. Front: Anne Moroney, Natalie Bussenschutt, Leonie Boothby, Mayor Bill O’Brien and Julie Smith. Absent: Jo Seabrook.

While the region is showing signs of positive recovery, the level of uncertainty facing the Barossa tourism community is unprecedented according to Tourism Barossa’s chairman, Jon Durdin who called on those who attended this year’s annual general meeting to look out for their colleagues, workmates and operators.

“The past year has been a very, very difficult one for many operators and all the people in our community and the level of challenge for mental health that exists deeply in our community requires attention and focus,” said Jon.

He added even when people across the region are smiling, know that there are people who are doing it tough.

But as he made a call to arms to the strong attendance in the room, Jon also remained positive for the Barossa and the region’s tourism sector adding, “We will come out of the other side a stronger Barossa community and tourism industry.”

Close to 40 people attended the Tourism Barossa AGM at The Vine Inn Barossa Community Hotel, Nuriootpa last Wednesday.

As part of the AGM, a Tourism Barossa Recovery Business Plan was launched and an election was held for four vacant board positions.

Anne Moroney will takeover the stakeholder position vacated by Craig Grocke.

Industry representatives elected were Tracey Low, Julie Smith and Michael Ludlow. 

Jon, in his first year in the chairman’s role, said he came to the Tourism Barossa board with a desire to see the organisation take a more active role with visitation.

While acknowledging the tourism growth, Jon also pointed to significant investment and new offerings being made across the region in the tourism sector.

And while tourism growth in the Barossa is above the state average, Jon said he doesn’t see that as being enough for the region.

He pointed to steps that have been undertaken to work towards increasing this, with a strong approach to implementing these being sidelined due to COVID-19.

However, the collaboration has helped to pave the way for stakeholders and Tourism Barossa to work towards promotion of the region.

“One of my proudest moments has been the way Tourism Barossa has been able to step up and play a critical part during this time,” said Jon.

“The role the team played to help Government, and operators on how to work with the State Government is one of the positive things to have seen from the organisation during a period of crisis.”

Jon said while it is far from being post COVID, he has been delighted to see record activity in the Barossa, but added it is not evenly spread across all businesses.

“My advice for those doing well is make the most of it… there are tough times ahead,” said Jon.

Tourism Barossa’s regional tourism manager, Ms Cathy Wills acknowledged the “remarkable, resilient individuals in the Barossa tourism sector”.

She also acknowledged the “extraordinary” leadership from Jon during recent months and cited the board’s wisdom, perspective and expertise.

“We do appreciate the road to recovery is long and the challenges for some businesses,” said Cathy.

She called on the community to support next year’s Barossa Vintage Festival and said it is an important vehicle for marketing and a driver for visitation in 2021.

“Recent history shows the Barossa has the capacity to weather any storm together,” said Cathy.

Constitution change

The Town of Gawler has been removed as a reference in the constitution following last week’s annual general meeting.

It was reported that the large impact from this decision will be if Tourism Barossa were to dissolve then the assets will be distributed to reflect the key member councils – The Barossa Council and Light Regional Council.

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