Earlier this month, Cessnock City Council (CCC) approved the formation of a Joint Tourism Services Agreement between the Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association (HVWTA).
It is anticipated that at a Special General Meeting of the member-run HVWTA will see the Agreement formalised in late October, creating a powerful single brand for Hunter Valley Wine Country.
This is a move that is said will fulfil the best destination marketing and deliver optimum in-destination tourism services.
In response to member feedback received earlier in the year the HVWTA sought to streamline services and gain greater resource and asset efficiencies as well as access to funding, by forming a working alliance with Cessnock City Council.
HVTWA President, Christina Tulloch, said that by forming an alliance that would unite the Hunter region’s businesses, there would be a greater opportunity to boost local tourism and services.
“Building on the momentum of The Alliance, we set out to create one tourism service representing the interests of operators in Hunter Valley Wine Country, delivering a range of economic benefits to members, while creating a single unified entity to promote, market and advocate on behalf of wine country,” she said
“The model will also unlock significant potential funding streams to support a sustainable and highly-competitive tourism brand, capable of advocating across all levels of government.
“To achieve this we’re working on forming a Joint Tourism Services Agreement whereby together with the VIC, and the HVWTA, will become a more powerful single unified entity to better market and promote the Hunter Valley Wine Country brand and offer visitors to our region a more seamless visitor experience.”
CEO of HVWTA, Amy Cooper, said this model will see local businesses re-focusing once more on the visitor experience and strengthen the Hunter’s tourism position.
“Beyond the immediate benefit of a seamless visitor experience, with the hefty de-duplication of assets and streamlining resources, working in close partnership has advantages for industry in giving our region its best chance ever of strengthening our presence as a destination of choice,” she said.
“We are using this opportunity to create a more equitable membership model, which is sustainable and predictable.
“With strong economic benefits of achieving unity between local government and industry, we’ll speak with one voice to attract new funding streams, and to advocate and lobby on behalf of the region.”
A major part of bringing together the two organisations is the creation of a new funding model to identify cost savings, increase income from the visitor economy, improve access to grant funding, and most importantly implementing a fee structure that equitably and fairly levies membership fees from all those who either directly or indirectly rely on the success of the Hunter Valley Wine Country brand to sustain their business.
“It’s a win-win for all involved and no doubt there will be significant benefits from a collaborative approach,” Cessnock City Mayor, Councillor Bob Pynsent, commented.
“What it will effectively mean is a single membership for the whole of industry and one strong, united voice to market, promote and advocate for our region,” said CCC’s Economic Development and Tourism Manager, Tony Chadwick.
IMAGE | HVWA, CEO-Amy Cooper, Cessnock City Mayor, Councillor Bob Pynsent and President of the HVWTA, Christina Tulloch (left-right)