The troubled history of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd is continuing with the sudden departure of CEO Steve Cooper last week. Mr Cooper had been appointed to get the RTO back on course just 18 months ago.
SCDL unilaterally issued a statement announcing Mr Cooper’s departure and the appointment of board director and former Qantas Holidays executive Ian McNicol who will serve as an “interim strategic advisor” for the organisation until a replacement CEO can be appointed. He will do this in conjunction with chair Barrie Adams and executive managers, David Wright and Veronica Rainbird.
Mr Cooper said, “When I joined the organisation as CEO over 18 months ago it was in a state of some disarray. I have worked diligently to correct that, with a measurable degree of success. That is not to say there have been no differences of opinion. This is characteristic of most vibrant organisations.
“At the conclusion of a relatively heated board meeting on Monday [4 February], I was invited to resign and, in the absence of any reasons for such a request, I declined. I then sought private advice as to a way forward for both myself and SCDL. My representative was assured in a phone conversation with the chairman that no action would be taken until further discussions were held. Subsequently, a course of action was proposed which I believe would have led to a mutually acceptable outcome. The promised response was not forthcoming.
“Instead I was advised of the unilateral decision by SCDL to issue its media release announcing my ‘departure’. This has caused me great dismay.
“I will not, at this time, engage in a public debate over the shortcomings around the board as I see them. I believe it is in the best interests of SCDL to pursue my options privately. In the meantime I re-assure you of my loyalty to the Sunshine Coast community, its businesses and all those who rely on marketing the tourism benefits of this special area of the world.”
But Sunshine Coast Destination chairman Barrie Adams said Mr Cooper was neither ‘sacked’ nor ‘fired’. Instead, he said Mr Cooper’s “services had been finalised in accordance with his contract of employment”.
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