BID to take control
THE tourism industry is being urged to take control of its own destiny by setting up a new cross-Bay funding organisation and reducing its dependence on council cash.
The industry is up in arms at mayor Gordon Oliver's proposals to slash funding for the public/private partnership English Riviera Tourism Company by 50 per cent next year and completely the following year.
At the end-of-season tourism update hosted by the company next Wednesday, delegates will be urged to support in principle the creation of a tourism Business Improvement District in Torbay.
The BID has been discussed before by the company but if the industry supports it next Wednesday, the ERTC will set the wheels in motion to set up an organisation similar to those already created in other resorts, including Bournemouth.
It would mean the 700 businesses directly involved in tourism, including attractions, activities and accommodation providers, would have to pay a levy based on their business rates to the company.
Some 200 currently raised £200,000 towards the company's marketing budget.
Carolyn Custerson (pictured), chief executive of the English Riviera Tourism Company, said they estimate the income could help more than double the £500,000 the company has spent on marketing this year.
She said: "A BID will allow us to generate as the private sector sufficient funds to continue marketing the destination at a time when the public sector cannot afford to invest as much as it would like to.
"Torbay and tourism are joined at the hip.
"However, we are where we are and as an industry and in a partnership with Torbay Council, we have to come up with another formula.
"The tourism BID would provide us with a sustainable route for promotional funding which public sector will not be in a position to support. This was always in the tourism strategy."
But she said it would probably take 18 months to two years to get to the point of balloting the businesses involved.
Mrs Custerson said: "I would expect it to be in place once the 2017 Torbay Council contract comes to an end but we are hoping we can bring it forward so we can support the council in having to reduce the amount of money being spent on discretionary services. Working together we can achieve that."