Up to $250,000 is available improve the quality of accommodation and attractions in regional areas.
The Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund (TIRF) is a competitive merit-based program that provides grants of up to $250,000 to develop, upgrade and refresh tourism products, services or experiences. The TIRF grant is being developed and will be implemented for the first time this financial year.
Project applications for TIRF funding will be assessed against the same criteria in two streams:
- Improvement / upgrade of existing tourism product
- The development of new innovative tourism product
A major focus of this new TIRF grant will be improving the quality of accommodation in regional areas. Tourism Australia is developing a marketing and product improvement program aligned to the Fund. Some eligible applications for this stream may tie in to a ‘Great Australian Tourism Makeover’ element being established as a media and consumer campaign within the domestic market. Selected and willing TIRF grant recipients may be filmed in their refurbishment project as part of future television promotional programming.
The TIRF grant will offer funding amounts up to $250,000 on a dollar-for-dollar matched funding basis. TIRF grants will be available in two streams for projects to improve tourism infrastructure in regional areas and for innovative tourism projects.
There are no rounds currently open
More TIRF Grant Information
- TIRF Grants – 2013 Program Guidelines
- TIRF Grants – Fact Sheet Round 2
- TIRF Grants – Frequently Asked Questions
- TIRF Grants – Template Letter of Commitment
- TIRF Grants – Template Project Budget
- TIRF Grants – Template Statutory Declaration
For further information, call the Tourism Grants Information Line on 02 6243 7604 (staffed from 9–5 AEST on weekdays) or email [email protected].
Round 1 Funding Analysis
A great TIRF grant funding analysis was conducted by Shane Granger on his Random Analytics website.
Some of the highlights include:
- With 14 projects awarded and 23.8% ($3,118,900) of the overall funding New South Wales (NSW) could be considered the outright winner. but on a population basis Tasmania was the clear winner, having won seven projects and 6.9% ($901,047) of the grants allocated.
- 75% ($9,928,930) of the total allocation went to regional centres, towns and villages with a population of 30,000 or less. A staggering 43.8% ($5,725,151) went to villages with a population less than 1,000.
- While the guidelines stated “eligible projects must be located in regions outside the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Tourism Regions as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics” Australian capital cities still qualified for 10.9% ($1,432,011) of the funding.
- Funds do not favour the incumbent Labor government but rather the bulk of the grants go to Coalition held seats (58.3%), followed by Labor (38.7%) and the Independents (3%).
Round 1 Recipients
On 15 March 2013, the Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson announced that 65 applicants were successful in the first round of the TIRF Grants Program. The Australian Government will offer these projects a total of $13.1 million in funding, which will leverage a combined investment value of over $141 million.
|Little Darling Hotel||The development of the Little Darling Hotel in Canberra will offer visitors affordable, high-quality accommodation in a premium location. This innovative concept relies on combining three star bedrooms with five star common areas. The hotel will introduce a highly competitive and innovative product to the market, providing greater accommodation options for Canberra visitors.|
|National Zoo and Aquarium||The Giraffe Tree Houses project will deliver a new luxury accommodation venue at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra. The accommodation will be constructed in the middle of the African Savannah exhibit and will provide guests with stunning views and exclusive interaction with the zoo’s giraffe and other iconic African animals.|
|Pavilion||Canberra’s iconic Pavilion on Northbourne will see the refurbishment of the existing tropical garden atrium, restaurant and bar. Funding will be used to upgrade the structure of the bar and install energy efficient equipment and lighting. This upgrade will reinvigorate the atrium area as well as increase seating capacity in the restaurant and bar.|
|Moira Station||Moira Station Homestead is located in Mathoura north of Echuca. This project will create new, luxurious accommodation quarters by renovating an 1860’s station out-building, located directly on the world renowned Cadell Fault which verges on the Moira Red Gum Forest and Wetlands. The 1866 ‘men’s quarters’ will be transformed into four ‘Starry Night Luxury Accommodation Quarters’ which will provide domestic and international visitors a luxury experience juxtaposed with the backdrop of the rugged bushland and the Murray River landscapes.|
|Mid-city Motor Lodge||The Smith Property group will re-develop an existing two star motel into a contemporary four and a half star hotel with a multipurpose 250 seat function facility managed by an international hotel group. The hotel, located in the heart of the Orange CBD, will consist of 84 rooms and eight one to two bedroom apartments, a local produce focused restaurant, wine bar and café. The project will utilise best practice environmental consideration in build and fit out.|
|Poachers Pantry||Poachers Pantry, located near Hall in rural NSW and close to Canberra, will improve its wedding facilities to become the rural wedding destination of choice. The target market for this project is the destination wedding, when all guests travel to a location for the celebrations. With its close proximity to Canberra these weddings will assist the region during the weekends which are a period of lower occupancy for the ACT. The project will seal the gravel access road to the property in addition to refurbishing the venue and landscaping the grounds.|
|Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley||The Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, located in Lovedale, will expand their existing facilities to create a 1,200 guest conference centre to directly appeal to ‘business tourists’.|
|Adventure Cove||BIG4 Merimbula Tween Waters Resort will install an innovative water play adventure structure adjoining the holiday park’s island pool complex. The project will also install a jumping pillow as well as a new BBQ and picnic area for families to enjoy.|
|Albury City Council||Albury City Council will commission Charles Sturt University to work in collaboration with the local Indigenous community to identify the stories of the Wiradjuri people in the region and their relationship to the Murray River. The findings will guide the development of commissioned public art installations along the Wagirra trail, and the interpretive elements that improve the quality of the visitor experiences along the trail. Albury City’s Indigenous work crew will construct the track and where possible the Wiradjuri artist will be commissioned for the creative elements.|
|The School House||The School House will be a stylish multi-functional training and event venue. It will be co-located within the Pender Lea Post Office and Chalets which currently provide quality accommodation for up to 95 visitors in Crackenback, Snowy Mountains. It will offer a diverse, inspiring range of culinary tourism experiences. A world-class chef will teach culinary skills using estate-grown produce, and producers and artisans will share their knowledge of horticulture, the arts, interior design and special occasion styling. The School House will host intimate weddings, celebrations and corporate functions.|
|Tree Top Adventure Park||This innovative new attraction will offer the first roller-coaster flying fox in Australia, winding 1km throughout the forest in Wyong Creek. The project would allow visitors to enjoy a unique eco-friendly, healthy outdoor adventure attracting people to the Central Coast region. The design will be a first in the world and would attract tourists from overseas, interstate and locally who are looking for an exhilarating adventure that they can’t experience anywhere else. Located in Ourimbah State Forest in the TreeTop Adventure Park it will be installed with no detrimental impact on the beautiful environment.|
|Macadamia Castle||The Macadamia Castle Outdoor Covered Areas project will create and install three large timber weatherproof structures, strategically positioned through the six acre Animal Park in Knockrow. These structures will enable visitors to participate in interactive wildlife experiences and enjoy the park in all types of weather. The project aims to increase bookings by organised tour groups, both domestic and international, and educational institutions.|
|Cobar Motel||This project will upgrade two adjacent motels located in Cobar; the Cobar Motor Inn and the Cobar Town and Country Motor Inn. The rooms will be upgraded to remove hazards, improve product quality and align with customer expectations. The BBQ facilities will be also be upgraded to enhance the visitor experience.|
|BIG4||BIG4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park in Tweed Heads will build a nature inspired water playground designed to depict the ‘The Green Cauldron’, an area of natural significance and one of Australia’s National Landscapes. The waterpark will use this natural environment and icons from around the region as a theme for a slide and cascade grotto including beach tidal pools, dunes, lighthouse and lazy river pool. The innovative design of the playground will differentiate the park from competitors and provide a unique selling point for both the park and the region.|
|Food I Am||Food I Am is a regional agritourism enterprise supporting regional producers and providing quality food experiences. This project will construct the Food I am headquarters in Wagga Wagga. It will provide facilities for hands-on classes, demonstrations and meeting rooms. The project be built with sustainable, efficient building principles and will provide modern contemporary facilities in a rural setting.|
|Lightning Ridge Outback Resort||This project will upgrade the Lightening Ridge Outback Resort and Caravan Park. The rooms will be upgraded to remove hazards, improve product quality and align with customer expectations. These upgrades will increase the star rating of the resort to three and a half stars.|
|Discovery Holiday Parks||This project will install a waterpark at Discovery Holiday Parks in Pambula Beach. A shallow play area with spray park features and a small slide as well as two fast, twisting waterslides will be installed alongside the existing outdoor swimming pool. The waterpark, along with the existing facilities, will produce a family friendly destination all year round.|
|Crown Plaza Alice Springs||The Crown Plaza Alice Springs is an important gateway for visitors wishing to experience Central Australia. The funding will be used to upgrade the standard of the hotel’s facilities and improve the quality of its 235 rooms.|
|Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre||This project will undertake stage one of the design and development of a world class public aquarium and reef research centre in Cairns. This new flagship tourist attraction will showcase the incredible species and habitats found only in the Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland across a multi-story building. The project will create employment opportunities during construction and operation as well as provide Cairns with a new centrepiece with which to further attract visitors to the area.|
|Mt Barney Lodge Eco Basecamp||Mt Barney Lodge, located at the foothills of the Mount Barney National Park, offers visitors an ecotourism retreat that includes rock climbing, abseiling and guided walks. The construction of The Eco Basecamp will offer a new, all weather, higher quality eco interpretive experience delivering dining and conference facilities to meet the needs of visitors to the area. The building will provide floor to ceiling views of the Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage area and will be constructed of recycled products to reflect its precious location.|
|BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort||This project will see the construction of a multi-purpose conference facility at the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Airlie Beach. The facility will complement the broad range of existing accommodation options at the resort and will cater for up to 100 guests.|
|Fletcher’s Holiday Park||The BIG4 Atherton Woodlands Tourist Park is located in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. The new ‘Eco Family Lodge’ project has been designed to provide a high quality, innovative product at an affordable price for guests staying in the region. The funding will contribute towards the construction and fit out of a three bedroom cabin, to be built from sustainable materials with wheelchair access, providing an eco-accommodation experience and setting a new benchmark for sustainable caravan park accommodation in the region.|
|Jungle Lodge||Jungle Lodge is located in the remote rainforest region of Cape Tribulation. This project will see the construction of ten new self-sufficient eco-friendly cabins, complete with solar panels. In addition to the twenty powered camp sites currently existing on site, these semi-permanent cabins will increase quality accommodation options available with the overall aim to attract more visitors and new markets to the region. Work will also be undertaken on existing facilities including the amenities block, manager’s residence, laundry and communal BBQ area.|
|Gold Coast City Council||This project will conduct a detailed feasibility study into the delivery of an iconic world class surf tourism product, including a Surf Museum and other creative and commercial components, to grow visitor numbers and expenditure to the Gold Coast from domestic and international markets. The development of such a tourism asset for the Gold Coast will further add to the cultural offering of the Gold Coast in the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Gold Coast City Council will work with key stakeholders to deliver the project.|
|Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (CLCAC)||The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation will develop and implement a Destination Product Development Plan. The plan will assess opportunities for introducing Indigenous tourism products within the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria Region and identify how to improve the attractiveness of the region as a destination.|
|North Gregory Hotel||The North Gregory Hotel in Winton is where Banjo Paterson first publically performed Waltzing Matilda. Originally constructed in 1879, it was rebuilt in the 1950s following a major fire. This project will upgrade the pub’s rooms and budget accommodation to respect the significant Australian heritage and 1950s architecture.|
|Capricorn Caves||This project will relight Capricorn Caves, the award-winning, geologically significant limestone cave system located north of Rockhampton. Using the latest technology, the visitor experience will be transformed and the range of tours expanded resulting in increased visitor numbers, extended length of stay and the opportunity to develop a new Paleo Centre on site in collaboration with the Queensland Museum. The use of LED lights and renewable energy will produce environmental benefits by significantly reducing Capricorn Caves’ carbon footprint.|
|Kingfisher Bay Resort||The Maheno Restaurant Refurbishment Project will upgrade the Kingfisher Bay Resort’s restaurant and kitchen facilities to provide high quality, modern accommodation and an enhanced guest experience on Fraser Island. The project will allow the resort to offer a diverse menu with varied cuisines that meet quality expectations and cater to the dining preferences of existing and emerging domestic and international target markets including China and India. The project will assist to ensure the appeal and competitiveness of the Fraser Coast as a quality ecotourism destination.|
|Barramundi Discovery Centre||The redevelopment of the Barramundi Discovery Centre in Karumba will produce an iconic attraction delivering a range of benefits. This project will complete the planning and design phase to support the construction of a completely new interpretive centre with café, fishing lake, community event venue and a small conference facility. This will create an engaging visitor experience to attract new and repeat customers, provide a hub for networked tourism business and increase restocking to enhance regional environments.|
|Wilpena Pound Luxury Safari Camp||Ikara Wilpena Enterprises will build a Luxury Tented Safari Camp at Wilpena Pound. This themed accommodation will be serene and intimate, immersing a maximum of 30 guests in the exquisite Australian landscape within the Flinders Ranges National Park. A major objective of the project is to encourage and support indigenous employment and expand business opportunities in the area. The tented safari camp will support this indigenous initiative through the development of a series of cultural tourism opportunities including air safaris to Iga Warta, using the safari camp as a base.|
|Kangaroo Island Lodge||Kangaroo Island Lodge will undertake a series of upgrades to the property including the refurbishment of 38 rooms to a 4 star property rating, recommissioning of the desalination plant and new solar panels, removal of dilapidated buildings and new staff accommodation and upgrade landscaping features to enhance the environmental appeal and the overall look and feel of the lodge for visitors. An endangered species habitat walking trail will also be developed to focus on nature and wildlife experiences of the visitors to Kangaroo Island.|
|Stuart Range Caravan Park||The Stuart Range Caravan Park, located in Coober Pedy, will upgrade the current 2.5 star motel rooms to AAA 4 star self-contained apartments. This upgrade will improve the region’s competiveness by improving the quality of accommodation and services and reducing the gap in the 4 star accommodation market making it more attractive to international and domestic visitors.|
|Bungaree||This project will upgrade the historic accommodation and venue facilities at Bungaree Station in Clare. Four self-contained heritage cottages and the Shearer’s Quarters function centre will be renovated and a commercial kitchen installed. By balancing new modern conveniences whilst maintaining the historic character of each building, Bungaree will provide a high quality accommodation experience for domestic and international visitors, complemented by a unique venue for conferences, weddings, coach groups, regional food experiences and cooking courses.|
|Seppeltsfield Wines||Seppeltsfield Wines will use the funding to redevelop the Seppeltsfield Cellar Door and Centennial Cellar, and to create a Destination Restaurant. It will connect the current cellar door to the heart of Seppeltsfield, the Centennial Cellar, via a mezzanine floor as a tasting, gifting and luxury lounge. It will enhance the food and wine theme, matching local produce with Seppeltsfield premium table and fortified wines all focussed on the high standards of Brand Barossa via a Destination Restaurant located within the cellar door flowing through to outdoor dining.|
|District Council of the Copper Coast||Fourteen 2-bedroom accommodation units on Wallaroo North Beach foreshore will be upgraded to bring them to a contemporary 4-star standard. The District Council of the Cooper Coast will undertake the project which will involve completely refitting existing units and enhancing outdoor seating and dining facilities and disabled and aged friendly access paths and ramps. This project will meet industry and consumer demand for more luxury accommodation at Wallaroo and attract new high yield markets and boost the local economy by up to $1.3 million annually.|
|The Little Sahara||The Little Sahara covers over two square kilometres of inland sand dunes, rising up from the surrounding natural bush land on the South Coast of Kangaroo Island at Vivonne Bay. This project will build The Little Sahara Interpretive Centre which will include sand board and toboggan hire, an activity and experience booking centre, a café showing regional produce, toilet facilities, parking, and interpretive signage. It will sustainably manage visitation to the Little Sahara to ensure that the environmental, economic and social benefits of this unique natural asset are protected for future generations.|
|Waverley Estate||Waverley Estate in Port Elliot is circa 1856 premium luxury heritage accommodation, nestled amongst one of the few vineyards by the ocean on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. The project will see improvements to the accommodation to address the demand for 4-5 star accommodation. Using sustainable building practices and providing long term employment and economic benefits to the immediate and wider region, this project will complement the newly establish on-site cellar door and art gallery, allowing for a one-stop regional tourism experience.|
|The Barossa Council||The Barossa Council will develop a unique Barossa Cycle Hub which will provide a dedicated cycle precinct and complementary cycle services outside of traditional retail hours. Located in the Tanunda town centre it feeds into several major cycling paths and is modelled on the ‘park and ride’ concept. Visitors to the Barossa Cycle Hub will be able to hire a bike at a central bike hire station, use the amenities, view signage, brochures and interpretive maps depicting regional rides and connecting trails and access equipment and accessories such as bike pumps.|
|Discovery Holiday Parks||This project will deliver an upgrade to existing cabin stock at Discovery Holiday Parks in Clare, with the addition of eight new deluxe 4-berth cabins complete with a deck and a second outdoor kitchen.|
|Stanley Seaview Inn||The Stanley Seaview Inn is located in the picturesque township of Stanley on Tasmania’s north-west coast. The aim of this project is to increase the motel’s appeal to families and raise the general standard of the property. This will be achieved through the extensive refurbishment of its rooms and building a new playground and BBQ area for guests.|
|The Maria Island Walk||The Maria Island Walk on Tasmania’s East Coast provides visitors a unique adventure tourism experience in a pristine setting. This project will refurbish two wilderness camps and a heritage house which are part of the Maria Island Walk. In addition to upgrading accommodation on the Walk, the project will introduce an integrated online and booking management system to better facilitate online payments and streamline booking processes for customers.|
|Tourism Industry Council Tasmania||The Tasmanian Industry Development Council aims to undertake a Concept Study to identify opportunities for investment in new tourism experiences in Tasmania’s Cradle Coast to increase visitation to the region.|
|Wooden Boat Centre||The Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin offers a unique hands-on visitor experience in the traditional art of wooden boat building. The project’s focus is to upgrade the existing visitor interpretation centre to showcase the history of boat building in the region and provide visitors with an in-depth understanding of the local timbers used in the building process.|
|Lilydale Larder||Lilydale Larder, located in Lilydale in Tasmania’s North-West, offers visitors the opportunity to sample local food and wine in its café, providore and bottleshop. This project will enable Lilydale Larder to expand its bottleshop, kitchen and tasting area to better meet the high expectations of its growing interstate and international visitor market.|
|Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority||Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority’s ‘[email protected] Arthur’ project aims improve access to the Port Arthur Historic Site for the growing cruise market. The funding will be used to extend the Authority’s existing jetty to improve the site’s capacity to receive more cruise ship visits and improve the overall cruise visitor experience.|
|Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge||Cradle Mountain is regarded as one of Tasmania’s premier wilderness areas. This project will upgrade the facilities at the iconic Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge including the refurbishment of its reception, restaurant, guest lounge and meeting facilities. The upgrade will ensure that the Lodge upholds its reputation as a world class visitor experience.|
|Prom Country Cheese||Red Hill Cheese and Prom Country Cheese located in Moyarra will build an agritourism venture aimed at domestic and international tourists, particularly the food experience seeker. The new facilities will provide a total “paddock to plate” farm experience for visitors with the primary focus being on sheep milk and cheese production. An educational tourism experience by way of interpretive displays, viewing spaces and presentations interpreting the process will create a meaningful experience for visitors to the farm.|
|The Tower Motel||This project will improve The Tower Motel in Marysville and ensure its competiveness to tourist nationally and beyond. Rooms will be upgraded and a new activity centre will be built. It will provide a shop-front reception with a retail offering that tourists, guests and locals will be attracted to, linking in to a regional network of local producers. A roof-deck will provide amazing mountain views; further attracting potential guests, passing tourists, conference delegates and locals alike.|
|Boynton’s Feathertop Winery||Boynton’s Feathertop Winery in Porepunkah will expand their existing business to create an integrated tourism resort. The funding will see stage one completed with construction of a second studio apartment, an expansion of the commercial kitchen, a reception and concierge service introduced and an underground wine and food vault to provide VIP services to the region. This project will create a site that is more than just a cellar door experience for tourist and will complement the existing accommodation services, restaurant, café, function rooms and tours.|
|The General Mountain Dreaming||This project will deliver 5-star, new, fully serviced hotel/studio rooms and offer a quality new and innovative experience for tourist accommodation in the Mount Hotham ski fields. The General and Mountain Dreaming Apartments will expand their existing services to cater for visitors all year round and will deliver the first fully serviced accommodation of this rating on the Great Alpine Road. The rooms will have access to the landscaped gardens, the hotel restaurant featuring local food produce, wine and beer and regional entertainers.|
|The Sovereign Hill Museums Association||The Sovereign Hill Museums Association will update and adapt the Comfort Inn Sovereign Hill’s existing accommodation facilities to afford tourists with special access requirements the opportunity to engage in the range of cultural experiences on offer at Sovereign Hill and in the surrounding region. The project will renovate six motel rooms to maximise the comfort and independence of guests with accessibility requirements and renovate existing motels spaces to create facilities for meetings and conferences.|
|Alpine Shire Council||The Alpine Gravity Park at Dinner Plain will provide year-round nature based family experiences, targeted specifically at the experience seeker market. A joint venture between Alpine Shire Council and Mount Hotham Ski Company, the project will develop an existing downhill ski run with a year-round dual tube run and lighting, allowing visitors during winter to experience snow-play, while in summer allowing them to enjoy day and night tubing and zorbing. Snowmaking equipment will ensure that the gravity park will remain viable for the duration of ski-season, regardless of natural snowfall, and complements the existing offerings at Mount Hotham.|
|Little Desert Nature Lodge||Little Desert Nature Lodge in Winiam will be transformed from a modest accommodation centre into a contemporary, year round, must-stay desert accommodation and eco-tourism experience. The accommodation and facilities will be upgraded including wheelchair accessible facilities and solar power. A wildlife centre will be built to support research and conservation, education, group tours and visitor experiences. A series of walking trails will be developed with interpretive signage to highlight the sanctuary’s many different flora and fauna species. Staff will undergo China ready training and Mandarin interpretive and information services will be available.|
|Murray River Region Tourism||A feasibility study will be undertaken by the Murray Regional Tourism Board into the Murray River Adventure Trail, a multi-sport adventure trail to run along the length of the Murray River, using land and water to incorporate walking, cycling, kayaking, canoeing and other forms of water transport. The trail will create an new product for the Murray River and enable visitors to traverse between the river and its banks in NSW and Victoria. It would attract new visitors, encourage visitor dispersal, increase length of stay and provide opportunities for adventure tourism operators, leading to new nature based products and experiences.|
|Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa||The Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa in Broome will use the funds to add capacity to the resort’s current conference facilities. The improvements will enhance the capabilities of the resort to host national and international conferences, exhibitions and events, which in turn will bring economic benefits to this remote regional area.|
|Whamcliffe Mill||Margaret River will be able to offer visitors a new nature-based experience thanks to the construction of new budget eco-accommodation and nature play space café. The project, undertaken by Whamcliffe Mill, will also develop a fire pit for Indigenous Australian guides to share cultural experiences with visitors onsite. The delivery of a suite of appealing experiences and affordable accommodation will assist in increasing visitation to the region.|
|Shire of Denmark||The Wilderness Ocean Walk project at Wilson Head entails building a dual-use pathway for walkers and cyclists which will link Wilson Head with William Bay National Park, maximising the panoramic coastal views and nature-based recreational experiences for visitors. The trail will also incorporate interpretative signage highlighting the area’s Indigenous heritage and unique flora and fauna.|
|Shire of Yalgoo||This project will revitalise the Yalgoo Caravan Park by developing new accommodation resembling a traditional 1920s style pastoral station fitted with modern amenities. It will offer visitors an authentic country Australia experience while lifting the overall quality of the Park.|
|YHA||This project brings together a multi-award winning international backpacker accommodation provider and a World Heritage Site to offer visitors with a unique experience in Western Australia. The YHA WA will convert the World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison into backpacker accommodation, providing 200 new dormitory and private beds in this historic location.|
|Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm||The Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm on the Dampier Peninsula is Australia’s oldest pearl farm and is an important local industry for residents of the Kimberley Coast. This project is aimed at improving visitor comfort through the construction of a dining area overlooking the Kimberley Coast and a swimming pool. The development of a new boat departure bay will also facilitate boat visits to the farm.|
|Forte Cape View Apartments||The Forte Cape View Apartments in Busselton will construct a new conference facility which will meet the needs of the growing meetings, incentives, conferences and events market. The facility will complement the extensive work already undertaken to lift the quality of the premises.|
|Golden Quest Discovery Trail||The Golden Quest Discovery Trail will benefit from funding to ensure the trail continues to attract visitors to the Goldfields region. The funding will be used to update the trail guidebook and directional signage which in turn will improve the overall visitor experience.|
|The Murray Hotel||The Perth CBD Murray Hotel will fund the expansion of its premises – including an additional 79 new rooms and a new restaurant, bar and kitchen. The improvement will address the shortage of accommodation in Perth by providing reasonably priced, quality rooms and amenities for guests.|
|Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat||Eco Beach Broome, a luxury eco-retreat located at Cape Villaret, will develop an interpretative experience to showcase the Indigenous culture of the local people allowing guests to engage, interact, learn and appreciate.|
|The Maze||The Maze is a family-friendly entertainment venue located on 32 acres of parkland in Bullsbrook. The grant funding will enable the development of a waterslide playground suitable for both children and adults. The expansion of the Maze to include a water park will also improve the visitor experience by providing a fun way to keep cool during the warmer months.|
Feedback – General Assessor’s Feedback for TIRF Applicants
Primarily, it is important to remember that tourism grant programs are highly competitive and that having a good project and a good application does not guarantee you a grant. For the first round of the TIRF Grants Program, less than 10 per cent of applicants were offered a grant, as the cut off from the assessment process was very high.
Understanding the objectives of the TIRF Grants Program is important when completing an application. If offered a grant, an applicant’s project would be one of a group of projects that all need to contribute to the objectives of the TIRF Grants Program – increasing the quality and range of visitor experiences in regional Australia. Many applicants did not link their project to the broader Program objectives when completing the assessment criteria.
Many applicants could have significantly improved their application by providing evidence in support of claims made. A common example was where applicants stated that their project would increase the quality of their product offering, but this claim was not supported with any evidence. Assessors were looking for responses that explained how applicants currently measure quality, how their project will increase quality, and how they will ensure their project will retain its quality into the future. Examples of information that could have been provided included any benchmarking undertaken before the project was decided upon, identifying industry best practice, and supplying evidence outlining how the project will attract tourists and encourage them to stay longer in the region.
Being engaged with the relevant tourism region through regional or state tourism bodies and other tourism operators is vital for this Program, and it was important that applicants provided evidence outlining how their project would benefit their region as a whole and not just their business. This could have been demonstrated by talking about which conferences they had attended, their contribution to surveys or meetings, providing a report or forecast on what will spend with suppliers, or surveying visitors to find out what they spend locally in order to forecast expected outcomes.
In the detailed budget the last line included the direction to include a costing for an external audit on completion of the project. This was a reference to a contractual obligation outlined in the draft Funding Agreement (available on the website with all program documentation).
There were a number of instances where applicants included milestone dates in their applications that indicated that projects had already commenced or had largely been completed. As outlined in the guidance material provide, project work cannot commence until a Funding Agreement is signed with the Commonwealth (which as outlined in the Program Guidelines is not before May 2013) – this was an important point to note as funding will not be paid retrospectively for expenditure that has already been incurred. As a result, projects that had been completed or would be completed prior to a Funding Agreement being signed were not eligible for funding under this Program.
Assessment criteria feedback
All applications were assessed against the assessment criteria set out in the application form. The criteria were equally weighted and there was no discretion for these criteria to be waived or amended during the assessment or decision making process. Applications were assessed by two assessors that included officers from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Tourism Australia, and state and territory tourism organisations.
Marks were given for the assessment criteria only and it is very important to note that only the information included in the assessment criteria responses was assessed. Applicants who addressed the assessment criteria in the project description and not in the assessment criteria responses may not have received a score for the information provided. Similarly, applicants who responded to the assessment criteria in an attachment may not have received a score for the response. Attachments can only be used as evidence to support a claim made in the response, and not in place of an adequately detailed response.
Each assessment criteria response was allowed to be up to 1000 words. Good responses generally used this allowance, provided a very strong level of detail and covered each part of the suggested guidance. Outstanding responses not only addressed the guidance in detail but also strove to exceed expectations and provide assessors with additional relevant information to answer the assessment criteria.
Assessment Criterion 1 – Alignment with industry priorities and strategies
For this assessment criterion it was important to demonstrate that the project aligned with various national and regional tourism strategies, including the Tourism 2020 strategy. Outstanding applications not only identified the strategy that their project aligned with, but also showed how their project fitted into this strategy, and how their project would contribute to the long term aim of strategy.
While the application form requested that applicants select only ‘one’ check-box for alignment with Tourism 2020 strategy, there were a number of cases where applicants selected more than one. There were no extra points for selecting more than one, and in a number of cases this resulted in applicants using their finite word limit to make tenuous links between their projects and unrelated tourism strategies, rather than focusing on a strong alignment with one particular strategy as requested.
The assessors were also looking for evidence the project would contribute to the industry into the future. It was important to provide some kind of evidence that the project would contribute to an increase in visitor numbers, length of stay, yield, employment or visitor spend.
Evidence of the economic benefits of the planned project from surveys of the applicant’s current visitors or from industry was important to include to support any claims made.
Assessment Criterion 2 – Capacity to deliver the project
Assessors were looking for evidence that the project demonstrated value for money, was at an acceptable risk level for the Department to administer, and would achieve planned outcomes.
Details of project planning, such as how the project would be managed when the business had to carry on around it, was important to include in this response– for example if a business were renovating, it could have demonstrated how disruption to its guests would be managed.
The last line of guidance asked applicants to show how their project demonstrated efficient, effective and ethical use of grant funding. Many applications did not attempt to cover this point. However as this is an Australian Government Program this was a very important aspect to address, as taxpayers have a right to see that their tax dollars are being utilised in an efficient and transparent manner. Demonstrating this in an application would have considerably strengthened the score received for this criterion.
Assessment Criterion 3 – Improvement or Innovation
This criterion focused on the quality outcomes of the project and how the applicant would achieve, measure and maintain them.
The target market(s) needed to be identified and applicants needed to show why they chose the project to meet that market need. Statements regarding the benefits of an applicant’s project need to be supported with evidence to prove this. Market research, evidence that the project is industry best practice, or evidence as to how the project will attract visitors is excellent evidence to include to support claims made and outstanding applications included this evidence.
Demonstrating how an applicant will maintain project quality over the life of the project was also important to address. Some examples are maintenance regimes or continuous improvement processes adopted so that the project would retain its attractiveness to tourists. This would indicate to assessors the long term viability of the project and would demonstrate that grants funding awarded would be used effectively.
Assessment Criterion 4 – Strategic and collaborative value to the region
The TIRF Grants Program offered grants of up to $250,000, and as a result it was important that applicants demonstrated the strategic and collaborative value of their project. Assessors looked favourably upon responses that demonstrated how the other tourism operators in a region would be part of the project’s success and provide evidence of the applicant’s partnerships and contribution to the region.
Many applicants only stated the expected outcomes for their own business but did not demonstrate that their project would have a greater impact on their local area or tourism region. Letters of support from other tourism operators or other businesses in a region provide strong evidence that the project would achieve the objective of strategic and collaborative value to the region.
Successful applicants also provided research and reporting on the economic, social and other value expected from successful completion of their project, and provided details of visitor expenditure in their region and sound estimates of the value of increased visitation to their region.
Applicants are not expected to ‘go it alone’ through the application process. They are welcome to use industry contacts for advice. The Department had two short YouTube presentations outlining the Program, a telephone helpline open for seven weeks and also an email helpline. The Department also conducted a one hour webinar which was then available on the www.ret.gov.au/tirfgrants website until after applications closed. The application form is designed for tourism operators to complete and the Department does not recommend or require the use of a consultant. However, getting some else to proofread at the very least is recommended as many applicants left key supporting documentation out of the final application.
The Department recommend that applicants DO NOT delete or move parts of the application form and DO complete all tables and provide all attachments as required to ensure that an application is complete and able to be assessed. Where applicants deleted parts of the application form or did not fill in the requisite charts and tables, this may have resulted in their applications being ineligible for assessment as they had not completed important, necessary parts of the form.
Attachments must be added at the back of the application form and labelled accurately. Attachments that were inserted into the middle of the application form, or attachments that were not labelled correctly, made it more difficult for assessors to assess applications. Additionally, it was important not to just attach documents at the back of the application and/or refer to a list of documents in assessment criteria responses and assume that this would answer the question sufficiently. If an applicant had referred to a document (quoted details or used as source of information) they could then attach the relevant pages of the document as evidence of their answer.