Weekend Courier - - Opinion -

AS A long-term res­i­dent of Rock­ing­ham, I am dis­ap­pointed with the City of Rock­ing­ham’s at­ti­tude to tourism in this town.

In the past 40 years, the City has done lit­tle to pro­mote tourism out­side its sub­sidy to Tourism Rock­ing­ham which, un­for­tu­nately, ap­pears to have lost touch with the chang­ing re­al­ity of tech­nol­ogy, forc­ing a new model, in or­der to sus­tain a tourism ser­vice.

Fig­ures show a $9000 loss in the 2016/17 bud­get of which $93,000 was sub­sidised by the City.

As a ratepayer since 1970, I would sug­gest this is a small amount of our Coun­cil’s bud­get to pro­mote our City.

The Tourism Busi­ness Model pre­sented to a meet­ing of Tourism Rock­ing­ham mem­bers on Tues­day night by City of Rock­ing­ham CEO An­drew Ham­mond was lim­ited in its un­der­stand­ing of the ‘real value of tourism’ to Rock­ing­ham.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, in 2016 Rock­ing­ham was vis­ited by about 900,000 peo­ple of whom 35,000 or 4 per cent used the Visitor Cen­tre.

Based on cur­rent trends, vis­i­tors to Rock­ing­ham will grow by 40 per cent in the next decade, whereas vis­i­tors to the Visitor Cen­tre will halve, bring­ing the per­cent­age of vis­i­tors who use the cen­tre to just over one per cent.

Th­ese fig­ures are only an as­sump­tion, but who is go­ing to speak to the one per­cent even if it is cor­rect?.

Mr Ham­mond told the meet­ing there was a real ‘risk’ the Coun­cil would ‘pull the plug’ on the sub­sidy in the next cou­ple of years, and sug­gested the tran­si­tion from a cur­rent shop-front model to a dig­i­tally-based so­lu­tion would re­sult in bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of Coun­cil funds.

The plan in­cluded the em­ploy­ment of two spe­cialised tourism mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als to work within the Strat­egy and Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Team at the Coun­cil Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fice.

The model re­moves the hu­man face of tourism in Rock­ing­ham and will bog it down in bu­reau­cratic man­age­ment.

While the model might of­fer a so­lu­tion to the cur­rent fi­nan­cial and man­age­ment sit­u­a­tion, there is a real need to con­sider the broader needs of a face-to-face ser­vice.

I agree there is a def­i­nite need to restructure the Visitor Cen­tre as the cur­rent model is not work­ing. But the as­sump­tion that all tourism in­for­ma­tion is sourced on­line is in­cor­rect and does not ac­knowl­edge the gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ence of trav­ellers.

Vis­i­tors might book their air travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion and some tours on­line, but they still want to talk to some­one who has lo­cal knowl­edge when they ar­rive.

There was an over­whelm­ing agree­ment from those present at the meet­ing that Rock­ing­ham Tourism might need a restructure, but it was ab­so­lutely vi­tal to re­tain an In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre to cater for vis­i­tors to the City. Dale Ker­ferd Shoal­wa­ter Peter Ed­wards Safety Bay

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