Co-ordinator Veneda Petts has the Hervey Bay Airport visitor information centre ready for business.
Co-ordinator Veneda Petts has the Hervey Bay Airport visitor information centre ready for business. VALERIE HORTON

Council defends visitor centres

BETWEEN three and seven per cent of visitors who drop into the council’s four Fraser Coast visitor information centres (VIC) book and pay for tours.

The revenue, the council said yesterday, helped off-set the $459,000 cost of operating the information centres.

The statistics come in the wake of local business people telling the Chronicle this week that they resented council “actively competing against local business”.

The council’s organisational services director, Lisa Desmond, defended the tour sales, saying visitors were always given the option to take tour information away with them so they could book directly or with their accommodation provider.

“A small percentage of visitors prefer to book at the visitor information centres for convenience,” Ms Desmond said.

“As the centres are primarily staffed by volunteers they do not concentrate on the booking service, and in most cases only book tours when the customer requests the service.”

Councillor Anne Nioa, who until recently ran the council’s tourism portfolio, said statistics showed tour bookings were typically only around three to four per cent of all visitors serviced, increasing to seven per cent in peak whale watch season.

“The provision of this booking service strengthens the opportunity to secure a regional booking rather than lose the customer.

“In the 2010 VIC customer survey, 60 per cent of customers surveyed (186 of 300) indicated that they felt that ‘the provision of tour booking services is an essential VIC service’,” she said.

Tours have been sold through the Maryborough VIC for at least five years, and for two years in Hervey Bay.

One Coast businessman said the council “just haven’t got the finger on the community pulse”.

“This is just another example of not only the lack of support for local business, but in this instance they are actively competing against local business.

“The council has an unfair advantage because they have a huge taxpayer-ratepayer-Fraser Coast South Burnett Tourism member-funded marketing and operating budget when compared to private business.”



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