Lismore, Ballina merge on tourism


BALLINA Shire Council will take over Lismore's tourism promotion from Monday, with the Lismore City Council yesterday handing over management of its visitor information centres to Ballina.

The Lismore and Ballina councils yesterday exchanged a memorandum of understanding putting Ballina tourism manager Liz Shepherd in charge of Lismore's visitor information centres.

The agreement also puts Ms Shepherd in charge of tourism campaigns for Ballina and Lismore, a move backers hope will lead to greater cross promotion.

However, the move has been attacked by Lismore councillors, who said they were not consulted.

Cr Jenny Dowell yesterday described the move as a structural change in the council that should not have been made without the councillors' say-so, warning that the matter would be raised at Tuesday's meeting.

Cr Dowell said Lismore and Ballina had competing interests in tourism and one person could not represent both.

However, Lismore City Council general manager Paul O'Sullivan said the decision to merge tourism services could only benefit both Ballina and Lismore.

He said day-to-day running of the information centres would remain with Lismore, but the deal with Ballina would get for Lismore a level of tourism management and expertise it presently lacked.

Northern Rivers Tourism has also backed the move, with executive officer Julie Burton and deputy chair Jenny Massie saying it would create a tourism bloc at least equal in strength to Tweed and Coolangatta Tourism and the Clarence River Tourism Association.

Individually, the councils each had relatively small tourism marketing budgets, but combined they would be able to compete with other major tourist destinations.

Ballina mayor Phil Silver said the major advantage of the new plan would be marketing the region as a whole.

"There's not much point trying to promote Ballina or Lismore, it's about trying to promote the Northern Rivers," he said.

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