Ballarat Regional Tourism will continue as an independent organisation, its members confirmed at its annual general meeting on Thursday.
In June, the council announced that they were to remove funding for the organisation - better known in recent years as Visit Ballarat - and take tourism marketing services in house.
At the time, many representatives of the city's tourism and hospitality industry criticised the move, saying that Visit Ballarat was representing their needs effectively as well as marketing the region in a positive way.
Iain Gunn, who is acting a spokesperson for the new version of the organisation, said he thought it was important the local tourism industry maintained an independent voice.
Mr Gunn, who has a stake in the Mercure and other hospitality ventures in the city including the Pub with Two Names and Carboni's restaurant, emphasised the group wanted to work collaboratively with the council and organisations such as Committee for Ballarat and Commerce Ballarat.
- THE INITIAL STORY:Visit Ballarat/ Made of Ballarat to be taken over by council
He said they had considered folding the group into the existing set up at Commerce Ballarat, but he and fellow members agreed it was important to keep going as a separate entity, particularly as the state government is currently conducting a wide-ranging regional tourism review.
Earlier this year, the Andrews government had criticised the City of Ballarat for pre-empting the results of the review with the decision to remove funding for Visit Ballarat.
We want to be relevant, objective and independent and we want to have a good, collegiate relationship with the council.Iain Gunn, spokesperson for Ballarat Regional Tourism
"With the regional tourism review, we want to maintain an industry advocacy group, and see how [the review] unfolds," Mr Gunn said.
"We are going to be on a reduced budget and we will cut our cloth accordingly," he continued. "We want to be relevant, objective, independent, and we want to have a good, collegiate relationship with the council."
"All of us are motivated about getting the best for Ballarat."
Visit Ballarat had more than 300 members before the current changes were announced.
Mr Gunn told The Courier he was unsure exactly how many members would sign up to the revised version of the group, which will revert to being called Ballarat Regional Tourism.
The new organisation will be focused on advocacy work for the industry, with marketing duties previously performed by Visit Ballarat moving completely in-house to the council. It will have a reduced number of board representatives, which will not include any councillors or council representatives. Sovereign Hill will also no longer have a seat at the board.
The Courier understands negotiations are currently in progress for the transfer of the use of the Visit Ballarat name to council.
Last month, the council started advertising several new jobs to market Ballarat both as a tourist destination and more broadly.
Visit Ballarat had a total of 16 full and part time staff. The newly independent Ballarat Regional Tourism organisation is likely to employ just one person initially.
The role of the Visitor Information Centre volunteers, who used to be part of Visit Ballarat, will now also be administered by the council in their new guise as "Ballarat ambassadors", a change announced earlier this month. The City of Ballarat is hoping for 100 ambassadors, replacing around 60 existing volunteers - some of whom will transfer over to the new role.
The severing of council funding comes after the city's tourism marketing and support operation had functioned largely autonomously since 2012.
Several well placed sources have told The Courier there were significant personality clashes between council and management at Visit Ballarat in the past 12 months.
However, the City of Ballarat has said the decision to end the three-year service agreement - scheduled to end in June next year - was due to Visit Ballarat under-performing. They cited disappointing visitation and market share figures, and also said the new set up would remove duplicated services and allow council to engage directly with tourism operators, visitors and residents.
The transition is due to be complete by the start of October.
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