Moira Shire is seeking community feedback on its draft Visitor Services Strategy that recommends a comprehensive makeover of council’s current mix of locations, services and programs.
Councillors voted unanimously at a meeting on June 28 to release the strategy for public consultation, and urged people to have a say.
Mayor Gary Cleveland said Moira Shire’s current mix of visitor services had served the region well but times had changed.
‘‘Tourism is vital to our local economy and local employment. We must review our provision of tourist services to maintain and grow our share of an incredibly competitive regional tourism market,’’ Cr Cleveland said.
‘‘This strategy recognises that visitors use multiple touchpoints to find out about a destination and to seek further information.’’
The tourism strategy outlines five core recommendations:
●Retain accreditation of Yarrawonga Visitor Information Centre;
●Retain the Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre as a non-accredited visitor information centre;
●Develop a mobile and pop-up visitor information centre;
●Deliver a Visiting Friends and Relatives Campaign 5; and
●Engage local businesses as visitor information points.
Cr Cleveland said Moira Shire needed to deliver the services in ways that more effectively reached new and potential visitors.
‘‘That’s why the strategy recommends shifting the balance to online and mobile visitor information services coupled with much stronger partnerships with local residents and businesses through campaigns and information points, and reduces the reliance on fixed service centres located in the shire,’’ he said.
‘‘Importantly, the strategy does not recommend a reduction in funding to tourism and tourism promotion — we are talking about a shift in the delivery and to this end the strategy responds to evidence. For example, less than a quarter of the visitors coming to the region contact a visitor information centre but the VICs absorb more than half of our tourism budget.’’.
Councillors Peter Mansfield, Ed Cox and Kevin Bourke urged the community to have their say.
‘‘We want feedback from the volunteers, business people and the visitors as to which way we should proceed and I hope the community takes the opportunity to give us the feedback on how they see things going down the track,’’ Cr Mansfield said.
Cr Cox said there were going to be some changes if council did not get any feedback.
Cr Bourke said tourism was important to the region, whether it was the grey tourist or younger people on school holidays.
‘‘It’s imperative we try and capture the best value for the dollar there. We need to put it out there,’’ he said.
Cr Marie Martin said the strategy provides a diversified approach to looking at how Moira Shire could maximise visitor numbers.
‘‘If you disagree or want to add something else, please do this. It’s for the public to comment on,’’ she said.
Copies of the draft Visitor Services Strategy are available online and are on display at council’s service centres in Cobram and Yarrawonga and visitor information centres across the shire.
●The feedback period closes on August 1 and feedback can be provided online, by email or mailed or delivered to council’s service centres in Cobram and Yarrawonga.