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Small Business’ Futures in Question as Inland NSW Collapses into Voluntary Administration

Inland NSW Regional Tourism Organisation Incorporated has collapsed into voluntary administration, leaving many small businesses’ future in question.

On March 31, the NSW tourism body appointed Bradd Morelli and Andrew Spring from Jirsch Sutherland as joint appointed voluntary administrators.

The reason being, according to Inland NSW, was that it was not able to get enough funding.

A statement from the organisation stated, “Inland NSW, like many other regional tourism organisations, is very reliant on funds derived from grants.

“This accounts for 82 per cent of Inland’s budgeted income.

“Unfortunately Inland has not been able to secure grants in time to meet its budgeted cash- flow needs.”

In 2015, Inland NSW received $2.26 million in income, and spent a total of $2.24 million, making a profit of $122, 835.

Despite the organisation being in voluntary administration, it still has plans to continue trading.

The news that Inland NSW has collapsed into voluntary administration has shocked the small businesses that rely on the body for marketing help and in turn, visitors.

Steve Sliwka, a pub owner in Broken Hill and member of the organisation, said that there were no warning signs that the company was in trouble.

“[I’m] actually quite shocked; I recently committed some funds and… I paid half that instalment about two weeks ago.

“There was no communication that anything was going bad, or any of that type of stuff.

“I’m just as gobsmacked as anyone else I suppose.”

He also states, “I’ll be interested to find out whether the knowledge of that was prior to Friday, and they were still pursuing funds.”

The concerns of small business owners who relied on Inland NSW for marketing assistance can be summed up by Jo Lindsay who runs a cottage at Lightning Ridge. Lindsay’s cottage is part of the Outback Beds network of farm stays and accommodation providers.

She revealed, “Walgett Shire really didn’t have any tourism marketing experience at all, and Inland Tourism played a huge role in bringing them up to speed.

“Without that, I don’t think we’d have had much promotion in the past few years at all.

“We just don’t have access to marketing people and marketing ideas, and without marketing, a lot of people have never heard of many places in regional NSW.”

In an attempt to give these business owners a peace of mind, Barwon MP Kevin Humphries revealed he was working with Stuart Ayres, Tourism and Major Events Minister, to investigate the consequences for its members.

A spokesperson for NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres revealed to SmartCompany that growing tourism in regional areas remains a priority for the state government, with Inland NSW a “key part” in that strategy.

In a statement from accounting firm Charltons in regards to the director’s decision to place Inland NSW into voluntary administration, they said that the directors had acted “responsibly, appropriately and … in the best interests of the organisation’s stakeholders”.

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