VISITOR CENTRE SURVIVAL
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.