Popular dolphin tourism centre calls in RSM for administration

05 March 2024 Consultancy.com.au 2 min. read
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The iconic Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury has called in accounting and consulting firm RSM as voluntary administrators after the WA tourism hotpot first hit choppy waters in the wake of Covid-19.

Professional services firm RSM has been appointed administrators of the Dolphin Discovery Centre (DDC), a popular tourist attraction in Bunbury on Western Australia’s southwest coast.

Rather than anything fishy, the conservation-focused centre had run into trouble due to a variety of factors, in particular the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism & hospitality sector and the strain from rising supply costs and staff shortages.

Popular dolphin tourism centre calls in RSM for administration

The non-profit organisation’s roots date back many decades, with the town’s residents having established friendly relations with the local Bottlenose population via regular beach feedings dating back to the 60s. The DDC later emerged with a focus on conservation and research, with visitors provided with the opportunity to interact up close with wild dolphins in a controlled manner and engage in education programs.

Continuing its current operations for the most part, the centre’s voluntary administration will be overseen by RSM restructuring & recovery partners Greg Dudley and Jerome Mohen alongside fellow Perth-based principal Travis Kukura, with the trio busy conducting an ‘urgent review’ of operations. Outside of an expected short-term modification to the DCC’s restaurant trading, the firm says that for now it’s ‘business as usual’.

“We understand the value and significance of the DDC to the local community,” Mohen stated, giving thanks to the numerous volunteers who have continued to provide support. “We will be working closely with relevant stakeholders including the board, staff, volunteers, and local government with the view to restructure the ongoing funding and operations of the centre, intended to ensure the long-term future and ongoing viability of the DDC.”

RSM added that it had been engaged by the DDC’s recently established management committee, which held concerns for “significant cash-flow difficulties” and was formed in the wake of several board resignations and the departure of CEO and long-time management consultant David Kerr. Previously, the board had voted in favour of pulling out as hosts of this year’s Utopia Beach dance music festival, which was due to be held over the weekend.

Speaking with the ABC, WA’s regional development minister and member for Bunbury, Don Punch, said the government wouldn’t yet commit to additional funding. “The centre is part of the fabric of Bunbury (and) nobody wants to see it close. (But) it’s pretty disappointing that this has happened. We’ve got to get to the bottom of what is needed to keep the centre functioning into the future. What would make it financially sustainable?”