COUNCIL ADOPTS CHANGES FOR CHILDERS VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE

A need to maximise the efficiencies of visitor information services in line with modern trends and to ensure value for money in the provision of tourism services across the region is paramount to changes to be implemented to the operation of the Childers Visitor Information Centre.

Bundaberg Regional Council at its ordinary meeting this week agreed to hand over operation of the Childers VIC to Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism (BNBT) which currently operates the Bundaberg and Gin Gin Visitor Information Centres.

Council’s Economic Development portfolio spokesman Cr. Greg Barnes said BNBT would assume operational responsibilities at the Childers VIC from July 1.

“Council received detailed information from a report it commissioned late last year regarding a full review of the operation of our Visitor Information Centres.”

“The figures are concerning, especially regarding the operation of the Childers Visitor Information Centre and associated Old Pharmacy,” said Cr. Barnes.

The report examined the operational costs of each regional facility, visitor numbers and current streams of income. The cost (in rounded figures) to operate the Bundaberg VIC was $156,000 for the 2011/12 financial year while Gin Gin cost $74,000 to operate.

Cr. Barnes said that the report identified that the cost to operate the Childers Visitor Information Centre during the same period was $349,000 with the Old Pharmacy costing a further $92,000 to operate. “Around 73% of these costs were attributed to wages to run the facilities.”

“The report also clearly showed that in-person visitor numbers are decreasing at the Centres with many people now choosing to use the internet to source their tourist or visitor information.”

The Childers Visitor Information Centre will remain where it is and there will be two visitor information touch-screen kiosks installed in the Childers area at sites which will be identified by BNBT in consultation with the Childers Chamber of Commerce and Isis Residents and Ratepayers Association.

“Utilising the services of BNBT will deliver a consistent visitor experience across all three visitor centres operating in the Bundaberg Region,” said Cr. Barnes.

He said Council will be re-investing any savings into the development of a new world class digital information platform which will provide an opportunity for visitors, either planning a trip to our region or those already here, to access tourism information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“These recommendations were approved after extensive consultation with tourism stakeholders across the region including a number of meetings with the Childers Chamber of Commerce and local Childers tourism operators with changes made to original recommendations to accommodate their feedback”, Cr. Barnes said.

Divisional representative Cr. Tony Ricciardi said he was personally disappointed that the Childers Visitor Information Centre could not continue to function in the manner identified and implemented by the former Isis Shire Council.

“Quite obviously there is a need for change to rein in the costs associated with running the facility. Although staffing arrangements will now be handled by BNBT, Council has taken extreme care in consulting with the existing employees – 2 fulltime staff and 6 casuals – to ensure all entitlements and procedures around any redundancy and redeployment are offered.”

Cr. Ricciardi said BNBT is in the process of finalising position descriptions in relation to positions associated with staffing the Visitor Information Centre.

“Council is also seeking expressions of interest from community groups that may be keen to operate the Old Pharmacy.

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