Eurobodalla Shire Council will close the visitor information centres in Batemans Bay and Narooma after a review on their services concluded less than 10 per cent of visitors use them.
Services will now be provided online via the Eurobodalla Coast Tourism website.
Council’s strategic growth manager, Elizabeth Rankin, welcomed the changes to online visitor information as “a really positive outcome”.
“These days people rely heavily on local intel – that’s how they decide where to stay and what to do,” she said.
“That authentic, personalised information is king, and contemporary approaches to visitor services engage and enable residents and businesses to share information. Everyone in Eurobodalla can play a role in getting the right information to the right people at the right time.”
Ms Rankin said even with knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff, a comprehensive assessment of Eurobodalla’s two accredited visitor information centres demonstrated the existing model is broken.
In December 2020, councillors resolved to close the Batemans Bay Visitor Information Centre on 28 February, 2021. One full-time position has been redeployed within the tourism team and the other made redundant. Once the lease for Narooma Visitor Information Centre expires in May 2021, future lessees will not be required to provide visitor services.
“The centres were set up decades ago, when people made travel decisions quite differently,” said Ms Rankin.
“Surveys found that less than 10 per cent of visitors to Eurobodalla use the centres, and they found it hard to find information, yet most of our tourism budget is going to the centres and printed material.”
Ms Rankin said it is time to take information to visitors instead of making visitors travel to information centres, with personal recommendations supported by online information at the forefront.
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“Plenty of businesses and individuals are already fully engaged with visitors and using excellent new online resources to support that,” she said.
“For example, we’ve integrated a mapping program into eurobodalla.com.au so people can curate their own itineraries online. And we’ve recently launched What’s On Eurobodalla to highlight the many events and activities Eurobodalla has to offer.
“We’ll provide additional training on getting the best use of those resources to any businesses who want it. That gives them the option to hang that distinctive ‘i’ information symbol out front.”
Ms Rankin said council has also updated print collateral, with six activity-based and five town-based brochures “for the cohort of people who still like information they can grab hold of”.
Another initiative, ePostcards, lets residents and visitors send virtual postcards to invite visitors to share their favourite shire locations and attractions.