I have noted with serious concern the decision by Bass Coast Shire Council to close the Wonthaggi Visitor Information Centre (VIC) to cut costs.
What a great way to support the local business community and ongoing tourism in the area in the name of cutting costs!
I wonder if the closure of a library would be passed with such ease and under the same guise.
Does the council have any real concept of what a VIC does and what it provides? It would seem not.
When, I wonder, will councils arise from their ivory towers and polished desks to find out what really happens in the outside world.
Yes, we live in an internet age and yes, many use the internet as an information source, but, and it is a very big but, many also use, want to use, and prefer to use VICs (that’s Visitor Information Centres in case you are an office dweller), as a method of gaining localised information and personal interaction which is not on the net.
Furthermore, as is evident in WA where they (VICs) are supported and encouraged by local government, they play a vital role in promoting, maintaining and indeed increasing the economic benefit of tourism to the localised economy and to provide information into other regions who gain similar benefit.
They are, as is a library, a service to the travelling and visiting community simultaneously supporting local business and events.
VICs can and are successfully operated as a business to offset costs and to provide for sales of locally made products and produce further increasing the local economy and supporting the many “cottage” industries which are themselves an important part of tourism.
Destination Gippsland (DGL), the regional tourism association, seems to be silent on this matter.
Have they been consulted? Have they made comment, or are they going to toe the line due to being in part funded by local councils (can’t upset the apple cart can we?).
DGL should be supporting tourism as a whole, but obviously Inverloch and Phillip Island is the centre piece of tourism in Gippsland or so it would seem.
In any tourism region and especially in Gippsland, due to its size and diversity, it is still vital to maintain a network of VICs and the Wonthaggi VIC should be a part of that network standing as it does on an important tourism route.
The closure, I suspect is the first. Perhaps when the other Gippsland CEOs get their collective heads together they will start working on closing other VICs in the region and so reduce the support of tourism and economic sustainability in Gippsland and all in the name of cutting costs.
I suggest you get out and about from behind that desk, do some real research and I don’t mean hire another expensive consultant or just listen to the line you want to hear.
Do something proactive instead of reactive and negative. Use the VICs as a marketing tool. It works if they are allowed to do the job and not be held back by box ticking bureaucrats.
There is real economic value in the self-drive tour, the grey nomads, and the package of activities, even if it is where to get the best coffee or fish and chips! Where is that information sourced? From a Visitor Information Centre.
Just think, 23,000 visitors will be lost to local business, even if all of them just buy a $4 coffee. That is a loss of $92,000 to local business each year. Can they afford to lose that?
John Munns, Lakes Entrance.