Image: Fran Dowsett

Does the CV really want tourists?

Dear Ed,

Well of course it does! Tourism is, a very important activity in the valley.

But is it?

Other areas are reopening or upgrading their VICs, while the CVC loathes them.

But we have pamphlets, (which are quite good), at a number of locations, like Ferry Park and the Grafton Regional Gallery.

I do duty days at the LCAC Gallery at Ferry Park, where there are the visitor pamphlets and a display screen, showing the highlights of the Valley, although there are no outside signs saying this. Unfortunately, most of the video shows the joys of canoeing down the Nymboida or running The Gorge. Then there is some on the Jacaranda Festival, and if you’re concentrating it will show a bit on Maclean. If it exists I couldn’t see any coverage of Iluka, Yamba, Brooms Head, Sandon, Wooli. It seems like beaches are a no-no. A charming lady in the video points out that if more info is required there is a touch screen below. I try it each visit and it has never worked.

I decided to check out the GRG Visitor info cubicle to see if they were showing anything different. Just as well I wasn’t driving a motor home, as there is no parking close by for them. The video wasn’t working, but coincidentally a techie arrived and plugged it in. Same stuff as FP. I asked him why no beaches? “We run videos according to the season.” I asked why then did the canoeing run right through winter? No reply.

Back to Ferry Park. Ferry what? Since the new spaghetti interchange has opened, there are signs for Maclean but no longer any for Ferry Park. (Oliver’s have also been complaining). According to an LCAC member, the TfNSW was asked, but declined. Ditto for the CVC who added if they want a sign, they have to pay for it and it can’t be on CVC land (even though they own the building).

I could go on and on about the underlying anti-visitor atmosphere that actually exists here. It could be summarised as “We love tourists and visitors as long as they don’t come.”

To add some legitimacy to my views I looked up the CV employment figures, to see where tourism rated. There are 20 groups of employment (sectors) listed, but no mention of tourism. Obviously, they are somewhere buried in other groups such as ‘Accommodation and Food Services’. Puts their importance into perspective doesn’t it?

But the big surprise (actually it was a shock) came when looking at the employment figures. They need to be openly discussed. In summary from 2011 to 2016 employment dropped 0.1% but from 2016 to 2018-19 it dropped 11.9%, but if construction was reduced to earlier year levels (to remove the freeway, bridges, jail bubble) the drop was 21.5%. If we keep going down at this rate, we’ll be able to promote the CV as “Australia’s last great wilderness”.

John Ibbotson, Maclean