VIS­I­TOR CEN­TRE SUR­VIVAL

Southern Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Pierra Wil­lix

Rock­ing­ham Vis­i­tor Cen­tre has been of­fered a life­line, with City coun­cil­lors last week vot­ing to en­ter into a “fee for ser­vice” ba­sis with the cen­tre, al­low­ing it to op­er­ate for at least an­other three years.

In 2017, the Sound Tele­graph re­ported the City of Rock­ing­ham had been con­sid­er­ing a new tourism busi­ness model in an attempt to bring more peo­ple to the re­gion.

But this plan in­volved the clo­sure of the vis­i­tor cen­tre on the ba­sis of a per­ceived grow­ing trend of tourists and hol­i­day­mak­ers re­search­ing and book­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and tours on­line rather than in per­son.

How­ever, in their re­port to coun­cil last week, City of­fi­cers wrote that sev­eral fac­tors had led to their rec­om­men­da­tion that the City should con­tinue to work with the vis­i­tor cen­tre through the establishment of a fee for ser­vice agree­ment.

These in­cluded the per­cep­tion that vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion cen­tres were still seen as the most ef­fec­tive means of ser­vice de­liv­ery and com­mu­nity feed­back had in­di­cated sup­port for the cen­tre.

The re­cent film­ing of Chi­nese re­al­ity show Viva La Ro­mance in Rock­ing­ham was also cited as a reason to keep the cen­tre open, as the film crew had at­tended the cen­tre to in­quire about what tourism at­trac­tions and ac­com­mo­da­tion options were on of­fer in the area.

Ques­tion­ing why coun­cil­lors had been ad­vised to pull fund­ing from the cen­tre pre­vi­ously, and were now be­ing ad­vised to sup­port the fa­cil­ity, Coun­cil­lor Matt Whit­field said he was “con­fused” and “con­cerned” about the change in ad­vice.

Cr An­drew Burns said although the need for vis­i­tor cen­tres were in de­cline, and that there would “come a time when all mar­ket­ing was dig­i­tal and on­line”, it was “not that time yet”.

The decision to en­ter into a fee for ser­vice agree­ment with the cen­tre was passed 8-1, op­posed only by Cr Lee Down­ham, with the option open to ex­tend the agree­ment for an­other three years af­ter June 2022.

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