From the Newsroom

End of the line for VIC despite councillors’ dissatisfaction

Geoff Helisma


During the run up to the election, the Independent asked candidates, “Sometime ago, CVC closed the former Visitor information Centre (VIC) at South Grafton in favour of a more online presence for the dissemination of tourist information to the public; is this the way to go?

Each of the since elected councillors expressed dissatisfaction with the closure of the South Grafton VIC; some advocated re-opening, others perceived CVC had failed in its delivery of tourism services and some called for a review, however, none of them knew there was a process in place involving a confidential deal to sell the South Grafton property – this is how they answered the Independent prior to the election.

Mayor Ian Tiley said the “South Grafton VIC should never have been closed” and advocated the “restoration of the Clarence River Tourist Association”.

Deputy mayor Greg Clancy said he voted to digitise CVC’s tourism services on staff advice that CVC couldn’t “afford to keep funding the VICs at South Grafton and Maclean” due to “demand being significantly reduced due to online access to tourism information”.

Subsequently, he said he “had developed reservations and would like to see the issue revisited”.

Cr Bill Day said that “it’s time for CVC to admit its management of local tourism has failed” and that the VIC “should reopen to accommodate trained staff and play a valuable role in local tourism”.

Cr Peter Johnstone said he would “commit to investigating whether we can afford to reopen the VICs” and “whether we can afford not to” reopen them.

Cr Debrah Novak said she couldn’t comment on whether she agreed or not, regarding closing the centres, however, she said that “CVC could undertake a review, audit and survey to see if the original desired outcomes have been achieved”.

Cr Steve Pickering said he was “bewildered by the decision” to close the VICs and that the South Grafton VIC “should be retained and re-opened”.

Cr Jeff Smith said the ‘My Clarence Valley’ tourism brand was “clever and innovative”, but said he would “like to see the re-establishment of a physical tourist information centre”.

Cr Karen Toms said the “closure of South Grafton’s VIC and subsequent change to tourism portals was a failure” and pointed out that “since CVC’s takeover of tourism services, it is impossible to know what tourism is costing, as it is not disclosed, that must change”!

Cr Allison Whaites said that “there is a consensus that removing the VIC was a step backwards”.