RESTRUCTURE VISITOR CENTRE
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