Sunday, July 8, 2012

Federal minister in town

The official party at Redlands
FEDERAL tourism minister Martin Ferguson MHR was hosted on a tour of the Derwent Valley last Thursday to discuss the future of tourism in the region. He was hosted by his ALP colleague and Federal Member for Lyons, Dick Adams MHR. The pair attended a meeting with Derwent Valley Council representatives to discuss a range of tourism issues including the Plenty Valley link road, Willow Court, grants, TT Line and budget constraints. Both Mr Ferguson and Mr Adams have said the discussions went well. Mr Adams intends to work closely with the council on developing tourism in the Derwent Valley.

While in the Derwent Valley, Mr Adams treated the minister to a few of the Derwent Valley’s hidden tourism treasures. They visited the historic Redlands estate at Plenty to see the restoration works being undertaken by Peter and Elizabeth Hope, as well as the Agrarian Kitchen at Lachlan. Mr Ferguson was so impressed with the operations of the kitchen, he has said he may have to visit again to take a cooking class.

A forum on the tourism industry was held in the afternoon at the New Norfolk District Football Clubrooms and it was encouraging to see so many tourism operators meeting to discuss the future that tourism holds in the Derwent Valley. Mr Ferguson and Mr Adams explained the national and international tourism environment and how this might affect the Valley.  There was also a question and answer session allowing tourism operators to ask the minister about some of the challenges facing the industry.
Mr Ferguson has promised to return once the guidelines to funding rounds have been set and to sit down with interested operators to help them to develop competitive submissions later on this year. He said $48.5 million over four years would be provided to a new Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund, which will support tourism industry development projects in regional Australia, through grants of up to $250,000.

The minister departed New Norfolk with only positive things to say about the Derwent Valley, its people, and its future in tourism. Mr Ferguson said the quality of the product was the key to developing a thriving tourism industry and Agrarian Kitchen had shown how it can be done. He also encouraged local businesses to ensure their messages were linked and said it would be useful to have a internet portal that covered the whole of the Valley and beyond.

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