A COMMUNITY group that formed solely for the purpose of creating a modernised visitor centre in Denmark will likely dissolve in the coming weeks after a Shire decision on their proposal “let the industry down”.
Denmark Tourism Incorporation (DTI) formed four months ago after the now-defunct Denmark Visitor Centre shut up shop on July 31.
DTI Operations Manager Beverley Ford said the group asked the Shire of Denmark for a 20-month tenure to launch a new visitor centre, with the goal to create a business model that eventually paid for itself.
However, after an officer recommendation, the Shire was only willing to offer the organisation eight months.
“It was very disappointing. We were concerned there were some misleading points in the wording of the officer recommendation, and we tried to make it clear to the councillors that the whole guts of our proposal was that we wanted to create an attraction in the building and a model of visitor servicing that became self-sustainable,” Ms Ford said.
“That can’t be done in eight months.”
However, Shire of Denmark Acting CEO David Schober said the DTI was asking for much more than 20 months.
“I can categorically say that the proposal [Beverley] provided was a three-year tenure and a three-year option and another three years behind that, so she was asking for nine years in writing to the Shire,” he said.
“[Our offer] wasn’t saying you can only operate for eight months, but it was certainly saying you’ve got it for eight months and then we’ll renegotiate at the March quarter.
“Their proposal was to go for nine years. There was an alternate motion from a councillor that took it from eight months through to 20 months to potentially go through to June 30, 2022 but that was narrowly lost three votes to four.”
Ms Ford said DTI had written to the Shire to reject the offer.
“It is not practical in any way for us to accept it because we would be bound to fail,” she said.
“We have written this morning to the CEO and all the councillors that we would not be accepting the eight months.”
Following the disappointing outcome, Ms Ford said it was more than likely that the DTI would no longer exist in the coming months.
“We will most likely dissolve. We’ve got a few bits of action that we’re going to consider taking, then after that I’ll have to find out what is required to dissolve us.
“We feel gutted.”
Mr Schober said in the meantime a tourism strategy for Denmark would be developed to direct the future direction of the industry in the coming years.
“The theme of the meeting was that the tourism strategy was the most important element, and without a dedicated tourism strategy to guide the future use of both the building and tourism as a whole, the councillors ultimately didn’t want to be locked into something into the longer term without understanding everything from a tourism strategy perspective,” he said.
“It’ll be developed by the Shire, we’ll be seeking an expert consultant to work with the community to develop that and then to provide a draft by about March or April next year.
“That will still go forward to provide Council and the community with the Shire’s intentions around tourism.”
Mr Schober said the future of a physical facility is not set in stone. “If it’s the view of experts that a bricks and mortar visitors centre is what’s required then that’s what will be recommended, but equally if the review and community and industry come up with an alternative, then that’s ultimately how council will be guided,” he said.