New levy to help secure central region’s economic future
  • Tuesday 12 May 2009

The Sunshine Coast Council has moved to safeguard the central region’s financial future through the introduction of a tourism and economic development levy from July 1.

The unanimous decision will bring the central region into line with the northern and southern regions, where the levy already exists.

Councillors agreed it was an essential element of its broader tourism reform process and would assist the Coast’s key economic driver position itself in a very competitive and challenging market.

Mayor Bob Abbot said the levy was expected to raise $2.7 million in the next financial year – all of which would be spent to promote and support the central region.

“The money raised will be invested in tourism and destination marketing, on major events of economic significance, sponsorship, research and other key projects for the central region,” Cr Abbot said.

“Council will allocate a portion of the funds in response to requests from external groups or boards.

“This is designed to help the tourism industry take control of its own future, to put the responsibility for marketing this region in the hands of the experts and allow the benefits to flow through our entire regional economy.

“The levy has proven its worth in the northern and southern areas and we know this will be the case in the central area too.”

Tourism leaders in Noosa and Caloundra have strongly backed the introduction of a levy in the former Maroochy Shire, saying the move would support the industry and business in the central region and provide consistency across the Coast.

A number of tourism operators and business groups in the area have also voiced their support.

Council’s Executive Director of Finance and Business, Greg Laverty said the equivalent of a bed tax already exists in the central area, forcing residential property investors to foot the entire bill for tourism marketing, events and promotion.

Mr Laverty said the tourism and economic development levy would apply to short-term accommodation, and commercial and industrial property, ensuring greater fairness and equity throughout the central area and across the region.

He said the levy system would also allow those contributing to see clearly how their money was being spent.

The owners of around 11,000 accommodation, commercial and industrial properties in the central region will pay a minimum of $50 per annum under the new levy system.

The amount each will pay will be calculated according to the property’s use, its location and unimproved capital value.