End of era for vis­i­tor cen­tre

Pilbara News - - News - Alicia Per­era

Roe­bourne Vis­i­tor Cen­tre — as lo­cals know it — will close on De­cem­ber 31, but the association be­hind it plans to con­tinue run­ning a dif­fer­ent kind of tourism ser­vice in the area.

Af­ter 24 years of op­er­a­tion out of the town’s his­toric old jail, the Roe­bourne District Tourist Association, which has been trad­ing as the RVC, will move out of the build­ing as its per­ma­nent premises be­cause of a City of Kar­ratha shift to a sin­gle vis­i­tor ser­vices provider model.

How­ever, RDTA chair­man Bruce Jor­gensen said the association would re­main ac­tive by op­er­at­ing guided bus tours un­der a dif­fer­ent trad­ing name dur­ing the 2017 tourist sea­son.

“What we’ll be do­ing is run­ning tourism prod­ucts rather than pro­vid­ing vis­i­tor ser­vices,” he said.

“So the idea is we’ll con­tinue with port-to-port tours, wild­flower tours and link up with cul­tural tourism, too.”

“We in­tend also to run guided tours of Roe­bourne jail.”

Mr Jor­gensen said the RDTA hoped to keep the jail and its sur­round­ing his­tor­i­cal build­ings open to the pub­lic dur­ing tourist sea­son each year, and even­tu­ally hoped to es­tab­lish it as a his­tor­i­cal prison mu­seum, sim­i­lar to that of Fre­man­tle.

RDTA vice-chair­woman Eileen Wright said as a mu­seum, the jail had “the po­ten­tial to be a tourist gem of the North West”, but needed in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments.

The RVC’s clo­sure comes af­ter the City of Kar­ratha opted in Septem­ber to in­tro­duce a sin­gle-provider model for vis­i­tor cen­tre ser­vices, for which the Kar­ratha Vis­i­tor Cen­tre won the ten­der.

The model re­quires the KVC to have an in­for­ma­tion ser­vice pres­ence in Roe­bourne.

Roe­bourne Vis­i­tor Cen­tre’s sub­mis­sion was turned down but coun­cil­lors en­cour­aged them to re­sub­mit for the next round of ten­ders, in two years time. City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long said the new vis­i­tor cen­tre ar­range­ment would take some ad­just­ment, but with it came op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­no­vate, in­clud­ing to the his­toric Roe­bourne old gaol build­ing.

“Coun­cil be­lieves the new de­liv­ery model, with Kar­ratha Vis­i­tor Cen­tre pro­vid­ing a con­sis­tent ser­vice across both towns, will give the best ex­pe­ri­ence to trav­ellers through our city and al­lows more flex­i­bil­ity in open­ing hours and lev­els of ser­vice,” he said. “While this is a change for the Roe­bourne com­mu­nity, it gives the KVC the abil­ity to in­no­vate and in­ves­ti­gate new ser­vice de­liv­ery mod­els across the two cen­tres and also gives the City the op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate greater use of the old jail and her­itage precinct as a tourism prod­uct in its own right.”

The RDTA has al­ready re­ceived its fi­nal piece of fund­ing from the City and will be­come com­pletely in­de­pen­dent as of Jan­uary 1.

Pic­ture: Alicia Per­era

Roe­bourne Vis­i­tor Cen­tre will close down at the end of this year, mak­ing way for a new bus tour ven­ture for the Roe­bourne District Tourism Association.

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