I read with great interest about the wish to investigate tourism funds, even saw a video clip.
As consumers of news, we are not fed a balanced diet. We only get to hear about the clients of 24Ora/Mas Noticia, so we don’t get the full spectrum, but anyway, I saw MP Setty Yarzagaray on the subject.
I thought to myself why would they want to investigate tourism funds, in fact an audit on the financial management of the former MinTour. He is now an important coalition member, let sleeping dogs lie, but apparently, they are digging.
I understand they are also investigating in the land department, especially land granted to commercial exploitation. I hear they are also trying to get to the bottom of how land in the lovely Seroe Colorado, ended up exclusively in the hands of friends and family members, but that’s another column.
First of all, an historical overview, I know you forget: Before MEP came to power, it naturally had its eyes on ATA’s excessive funding. And if I were the MinPres, I would be eyeing that bonanza too.
Remember, ATA changed its structure to a semi private organization back in 2010. Its income at the time was around 50M. Almost 10 years later, that income has grown to around 100M.
Over 10 years it has become apparent that ATA, as an effective Destination Marketing Company, does not need a 100M budget.
So, the man in charge, the clever MinTour saw a golden opportunity to get better control of the cash by CHANGING ATA’s structure from a Destination Marketing Organization, DMO, to a DMMO, Destination Marketing & Management Organization.
The change allowed ATA to get into things like product enhancement, which under normal circumstances would be the job of DOW. It allowed ATA to get into product quality, which under normal circumstances would be the job of the private sector.
This meant that the MinTour, via ATA, could direct funds to so called projects like laying klinkers in Paradera, his power base, installing blue horses downtown, putting up signs and plaques, funding the beach police, and making himself look like a savior, just before the elections.
Somehow, this strategy did not work so well, the former MinTour fared poorly in the polls, but he did manage to secure the most prized ministry, Infrastructure and environment.
Back to ATA: ATA spends around 65M to 70M on destination marketing, its core responsibility and then around another 10M on product – projects which DOW should be undertaking.
Why? Because the money is available, and must be spent, otherwise other parties, will move in to claim and collect it.
Thus, the current MinPres instructed the current MinTour to divert at least 20M from ATA’s budget to GOA’s coffers.
Many in tourism agree.
ATA should remain a DMO, and requires no more than 65M to operate effectively.
GOA is in dire need of funding and although 20M is a drop in the bucket, every little bit helps.
My friends in tourism think that this investigation is a way for GOA to legitimately REDUCE ATA’s funding, and get its hands on the excess money without having a confrontation with anyone.
Let’s see where it ends up.