Council defends giving tourism contract to Queensland group
TWEED Shire Councillors are defending their controversial decision to replacing Destination Tweed with a Queensland tourism company to promote the region.
On Thursday, council unanimously awarded the contract to Hervey Bay-based company DR Tourism at the recommendation of staff.
The four-year contract states DR Tourism would be paid $950,000 a year, with an option to be extended by a further four years, totalling $7.6million.
The decision elicited many different reactions on social media from the community, with many questioning why Destination Tweed was snubbed for the major contract.
But Councillor Pryce Allsop said it was important council supported the recommendation after each applicant was assessed by "a tender panel, including two independent members and overseen by a probity officer".
"The reasons behind the change of tourism agencies is not a choice made by council but a process of design for creating a transparent tender process," Cr Allsop said.
"The tender process is rigorous and the application process means that the greatest score will be awarded the contract.
"Legally we could be challenged by competitors involved in the process allowing for damages to be awarded for failing to follow the process.
"The tender panel recommends the highest point-scoring applicant.
"In this process favouritism, relationships and familiarities are rightfully removed from council and councillors. This is purposeful to ensure the best value for ratepayers is achieved.
"It is no different to any other tender."
Cr Warren Polglase said the decision to support the recommendation showed council was "acting like a business" and trying to deliver the "best outcome" for Tweed.
"This process has been a very exhaustive process and council has been at an arm's length from the process," Cr Polglase said.
"(Applicants) had to meet certain criteria and when the criteria was added up, at the end of the day DR Tourism won that process.
"Many people would say we should look locally but we have an obligation to give serious consideration at the propriety that this tender was put under."
Cr Allsop said he looked forward to seeing what DR Tourism has planned for the region.
"This is a new chapter in Tweed's drive for tourism," Cr Allsop said.
"Whilst we acknowledge and appreciate the great work that has been done so far by Destination Tweed, we are dutifully having to move forward and build new relationships."
The newly-developed The Tweed destination brand is solely owned by Tweed Shire Council and will continue under DR Tourism under licence.