Goulburn River Valley Tourism to wind up operations

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Peak tourism body Goulburn River Valley Tourism will be winding up operations at the end of the financial year, as all four supporting shire council’s decided to discontinue their memorandum of understandings.

GRVT Executive Officer Leanne Hulm said the first blow came in March when Greater Shepparton City Council announced they would be exploring other opportunities to expand tourism in the region, discontinuing their MOU with GRVT on June 30, 2019. 

‘‘Greater Shepparton City Council put the recommendation up first and then the other four councils decided not to go ahead,’’ she said.

Goulburn River Valley Tourism is the independent peak regional tourism body covered by the local government areas of Greater Shepparton, Mitchell, Murrindindi and Strathbogie.

Ms Hulm said the organisation tried to seek other funding arrangements in the wake of the news, however all efforts were unsuccessful.

‘‘The organisation has been in operation for tens years and the amount of work with operators and tourism organisations right across the region really did work well,’’ she said. 

Ms Hulm said the board’s decision to wind up operations was made in light of the State Government’s announcement of a tourism review throughout Victoria and an anticipated re-shuffle of tourism regions.

Also announced in March, added pressure was placed on the tourism peak body. 

‘‘It was just really bad timing,’’ Ms Hulm said.

GRVT Chair, Annie Fletcher-Nicholls said ‘‘It’s deeply disappointing that despite celebrating the great work that we have done to grow the visitor economy by over $200 million in the last five years our four member councils have opted to part ways.”

“GRVT was built on the concept of an alliance to support the tourism operators and industry, and without that alliance not only has GRVT been left in an untenable position, but I fear the tourism industry will need to look for new ways to market themselves, to develop their product and to get in front of regional and state decision makers,’’ she said.

Ms Hulm said the organisation looked forward to to working on the Shepparton Art Museum in the near future. 

‘‘It would have been good to have a tourism organisation pushing that forward,’’ she said.

In light of the changes, Ms Hulm hopes the review currently being undertaken by the state government will see the tourism industry in the region continue to thrive.