I am Cath Noonan, along with my husband, Andrew Noonan, we have owned Noonan’s Showcase Jewellers of Cobram for 22 years.
I have lived in the area for most of my life and I am passionate about this wonderful part of the world we call home.
I am writing to express my deep concerns regarding the proposed closure of our local Tourist Information Centre (Cobram Courier, July 5).
I have read the Moira Shire Visitor Services draft strategy and oppose the decisions most strongly.
In recent times our town has endured some difficult financial setbacks related to cost cutting by other organisations which has resulted in an increase of unemployment in the town.
I fear that if Cobram were to lose the Tourist Information Centre this would be another devastating blow to the people of Cobram and surrounds.
Tourism is such an important source of revenue to local clubs, hotels and retailers alike.
I fear that the flow-on effect would impact on the livelihood of the town.
The collected data according to Cr Marie Martin (Cobram Courier, July 19) claims that only 25 per cent of people who visit our region went through a Visitor Information Centre.
Who collected this data and where is the proof of the validity of same?
Was this data collected in Cobram alone?
The Courier article on July 5 did not draw the public’s attention to a proposed major change by the Moira Shire Council and indeed could easily be missed and/or misunderstood by the public.
Was this the intention of the council?
I think that it’s wonderful that Yarrawonga is keeping its Tourist Information Centre but as Cobram is central to the Sun Country on the Murray region I believe it would be logical to retain ours also.
I prompt the Moira Shire councillors to not just think of cost-cutting measures but have some foresight and vision for the future needs of our town.
Can’t be a tourist town without tourist centre
Every regional area and town is proud of their Visitor Information Centre. A town with no Visitor Information Centre is not a tourist town.
At some time last year the Moira Shire tourist development officer commenced an investigation — the whole purpose behind it is to look at how we are spending our tourist dollar, said Cr Marie Martin (Cobram Courier, July 19).
The officer arranged for a conference last September to discuss changes to tourism activity. Attendees included all tourism staff and tourism ambassadors from the four Visitor Information Centres within the shire and other invitees.
The tourist development officer presented five recommendations to the meeting:
●Retain accreditation of Yarrawonga Mulwala VIC: Meaning that service will continue as normal.
●Retain the Barmah Forest Heritage Education Centre as a non-accredited VIC: Meaning that this centre will be the second VIC in Moira Shire with flexible hours to be adapted according to demand.
●Develop a mobile and pop-up Visitor Information Centre: This can be a visitor services stand at a local event, or a caravan, van or trailer that can travel to where visitors are at key events or attractions. Attendance at such an event would no doubt be a great attraction if a Priscilla look-alike arrived atop the bus with flowing yellow ribbons.
●Deliver a Visiting Friends and Relatives campaign: This would require development of a marketing plan featuring local tourism businesses and targeting local residents.
Residents can share their local knowledge and enthusiasm with visiting friends and family.
●Engage local businesses as Visitor Information Points: Local businesses will be accredited, receive ongoing visitor information training and equipped with Visitor Information Point A-frame and a small brochure display to help them promote the region and provide good quality visitor information to visitors.
The overriding issue is that the Cobram and Numurkah Visitor Information Centres were marked for closure to be replaced by Visitor Information Points with very limited resources and an expectation that shop assistants with very minimal training and no experience could deliver nowhere near the standard of service now provided by the present tourist information development officers.
These women are fully trained and with years of experience behind them. In addition the expectation that that the meagre display on an A-Frame is completely untenable.
The Cobram VIC has a permanent display of some 100 or so brochures available for distribution to visitors.
The visitor to Visitor Information Points would always get second rate service as they would always be second in line to customers wanting to make purchases.
There needs to be an understanding of the demands that tourist information service officers are exposed to. Most of their time is not spent attending to visitors.
The VIC is the central repository for all tourist information with their area of responsibility — such information must be first obtained from clients who want their information disseminated to the community. Office work takes a big chunk of the day.
Moira Shire Council has made a draft Visitor Services Strategy 2017-2019 available which may be obtained from Visitor Information Centres across the shire.
I urge the community to obtain a copy and then provide feedback to the shire online, by email, or mailed or delivered to council’s service centres at Cobram and Yarrawonga.
But don’t delay because the feedback period closes on August 1.
To those members of the community who will be directly affected by these proposed changes: If the shire goes ahead you may wish to call for a public meeting to further discuss the issues. Again, don’t delay.
I have been a tourism ambassador at the Cobram Visitor Information Centre for the past six years.
Remember a town with no Visitor Information Centre is not a tourist town.