Was it a missed chance to deliver COVID-safe message to visitors

A “sorry closed” sign is all that greets visitors when they arrive at the Bass Coast Shire’s main visitor information centre at Newhaven.

SURELY, with a bigger than usual influx of visitors to Phillip Island at the start of the winter school holidays, the Visitor Information Centre at Newhaven should be open.

The Penguin Parade is up and running again.

Caravan parks, motels, holiday homes and Airbnbs are all heavily booked.

Hundreds of families swamped the carnival rides in Thompson Avenue today for example. There were big numbers enjoying coffees and lunches, strolling down the street, out on the jetty and along the beach walk.

Inverloch, Kilcunda and other popular haunts were also busy.

It’s already been a big weekend.

So, why isn’t the shire’s main visitor information centre open.

Surely the centre should be open and supporting visitors, not to mention taking the opportunity deliver the COVID-safe message on the front line.

Yes, we’re welcoming visitors to the Island but in deference to local health services and the resident population, we should be reminding visitors to practice “social distancing”, wash hands, stay away completely if unwell and not have more than five guests in your home, other than those who usually live there.

Was it an opportunity lost?

There have been 41 new coronavirus cases in Melbourne overnight for goodness sake.

And what about supporting local business?

Under normal circumstances, we’re told the money spent by ratepayers on visitor information is money well spent investing in local jobs.

Why not now?

But, no, the shire’s main visitor information centre remained firmly closed at the start of the school holidays.

We asked the Bass Coast Shire “why?”

The following response was provided by Bass Coast CEO Ali Wastie:

“We were planning to re-open our Visitor Centres on Friday, June 26 in time for school holidays.

“Preparation for the proposed re-opening has involved setting up sneeze guards on counters, extra cleaning, distancing signage and a range of other measures.

“Unfortunately, with the escalation in cases in Victoria in recent days and after consultation with Bass Coast Health, Council has decided to maintain the current arrangement for a little while longer.

“People can contact staff to receive assistance but are not yet able to have face-to-face contact.”

But, it that good enough?

Banks are open.

The full array of shops, cafes, businesses, tourist venues and commercial premises are open.

So why not the shire’s visitor information centre, and their customer service centre in Wonthaggi for that matter?

Why aren’t they both open?

Get with the program Bass Coast, open the visitor information centre at Newhaven and open it NOW!

Visitors are instead directed to the shire’s website but what about jobs and business?

Is the closure of the shire’s visitor information centre at Newhaven a missed opportunity to deliver the COVID-safe message on the front line?