It was the changing of the guard at peak tourism body Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) this week, with long-serving chairman Randall Walker stepping down.
He has been replaced by long-time councillor and former mayor, Daniel Myles.
The ebullient and effervescent Mr Walker, who for the past six years has sung the praises of the region to anyone willing to listen, said he just felt it was time to hand over the reins.
With the resignation, too, of the treasurer, Geoff Luscombe, and the secretary, Wayne Cooper, it also meant “an opportunity for renewal/change at the Board executive level which is healthy for any organisation”, Mr Walker said.
Dylan Jones from the Blue Mountains Adventure Company is BMLOT’s new secretary and Jason Cronshaw from Fantastic Aussie Tours is the new treasurer. Michael Brischetto from the Carrington Hotel remains vice-chairman.
Mr Walker said it had been “an absolute honour and a privilege to represent one of the most magnificent and recognisable destinations on the planet”.
“I have lived and breathed the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region every single day
for the past six years and am proud of the milestones the organisation has achieved in that time.
“There will always be people in life who say things can’t be done. I am not one of them and I enjoy working with similar minded people. We have done whatever it takes to protect, promote and share this region with the world.’’
Mr Myles said the area owed Mr Walker a debt that “cannot be overstated”.
“People across the Blue Mountains, Lithgow-Oberon region are better off for having had a vibrant and focused tourism advocacy body for our area,” he said.
Of his own appointment, Mr Myles said he saw it as “a magnificent opportunity with a terrific team, fantastic providers and a government sector that wants to help”.
He said he had the backing and support of the Blue Mountains mayor, Mark Greenhill, and would focus on getting “everybody who is a tourism operator” joining BMLOT to increase the strength of the organisation.
He also wanted to see better promotion of the Cultural Centre in Katoomba.
Mr Walker, in his last address as chairman at BMLOT’s AGM on Monday, listed some of his proudest achievements, which included the establishment of an Indigenous Development Tourism Program. This allows clans from the six Aboriginal language groups across the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area to self-determine experiences they wish to share with visitors.
He also drove celebrations last year to mark the bicentenary of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth’s crossing of the Mountains, including Australia’s largest ever civilian flyover and the distribution of a commemorative holey dollar to 14,000 Mountains students and teachers.
Unfortunately the expenditure and a delay in government funds coming through led to a cash flow problem which saw some small business owners waiting months for payment for their work.
Mr Myles said that had been a “time of difficulty” for BMLOT and he would focus on issues of governance to ensure it was not repeated.
Mr Walker will continue to serve as BMLOT’s interim chief executive officer until the end of the financial year and the position will be advertised, Mr Myles said.