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Can We fund Our Own Tourism Revival?

Well... The answer is yes and no. How is it possible for the private sector to partner with government for the provision of sustainable tourism marketing and development on Norfolk Island? That really sounds like a mouthful doesn't it? Well, all it means is that the local community puts money towards the marketing and upkeep of the island's tourism product as does the government. In our case the Federal Government.

Think about this. If 300 individuals or businesses put in annually 3000 dollars each that is 900 000 dollars. Even in a small community of just 1800 this is achievable. It becomes especially achievable when the contribution is progressively scaled depending on who is likely to afford more or less of a contribution. Now put this together with regional tourism grants for projects or recurring grants for marketing purposes and you are well on your way. Considering Norfolk Island's previous tourism marketing budget annually amounted to less than a million dollars then this is already a big step in the right direction for the island's marketing future.

One of the models of tourism management we could follow is that of Lord Howe Island who have a board to take care of island affairs and a tourism association made up of appointed and elected members who manage the money and marketing and have a say in the upkeep of the island's tourism product, namely National Parks, Accommodation and the like. In their annual report for 2014-15 the Board states ""In recent years the Board has been very successful in obtaining grants for both operational and capital purposes. About 75 per cent of the Board’s funding comes from both recurrent and one-off grants from the NSW Government, and one-off grants from the Australian Government for specific purposes or projects. Consequently only about 25 per cent of the costs of services delivered by the Board are borne by local residents and businesses, thereby facilitating investment in sustainable development.""

The funding from the private sector could be collected in the form of a tourism levy that was subject to a progressive scale depending on the size of the source. It could be incorporated into the local rates or it could be voluntary. Obviously a mandatory levy would be more successful and fair.

But who should pay? The tourist or the local. Applying something like a bed tax can shift the burden from the locals pocket but accommodation properties might complain that it makes them less competitive. By everybody in the community contributing then a bed tax could b avoided but may well still be considered as a potential source of revenue.

It is time for our small community to get involved in marketing Norfolk Island as a whole and for the single person right up to the biggest business to 'pay it forward''. This means we can all have a tangible stake in the island's tourism future and a say in how that future is forged.

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