Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce head Bernard Whebell.
Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce head Bernard Whebell.

Visitor centres sell tours

ACCUSATIONS the council is putting local jobs in jeopardy by instructing its four tourist information offices to sell local tours will be thrashed out at a meeting later this month.

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Bernard Whebell confirmed yesterday that the four council-run offices had started selling tours.

“Chamber members have recently raised this issue and we have also raised it with council. We are now waiting to set up a meeting with council staff and councillors to discuss our concerns.”

Fraser Coast South Burnett Tourism head Damien Massingham said he couldn't comment because “we don't run the council tourism offices. You need to talk to council”.

A local businessman said there had been many discussions over the years as to why this shouldn't happen.

“It is just not right that any form of government, whether local, state or federal, should compete against local business.

“It is even more applicable for local government to adhere to the principle of not competing with local business because it is the very ratepayers, including tourism business like agents and especially accommodation houses, that pay the council staff and the councillors.

“This practice is taking sales away from local business and as such is putting jobs in jeopardy.

“If it does not stop it will cause a downturn that could force the closure of many businesses, with many businesses being drastically affected already.”

Dave Robertson, president of the Fraser Coast 4X4 Hire Association, said council was funded by taxpayers and ratepayers. “This means they're simply having another dip at us. It really does create a conflict of interest.”

Councillor O'Connell, who is trying to facilitate the meeting between the chamber and council, said the issue needed to be sorted out but that tourist office volunteers were doing a great job.

“Times are unbelievably tough,” Mr Robertson said. “We don't need things made tougher.”



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