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Get your tourism info here

A tourism portal, “which allow visitors to see a big beautiful map of the Clarence Valley, videos showcasing the area and a touch screen that lets them explore digitally”.
There are portals at South Grafton and Maclean information centres, CVC offices, the airport and Calypso Holiday Park. Others will be located at Grafton library, community centres and holiday parks. Visitors using the portals will be able to phone and speak with an information officer or utilise the ‘live chat’ text facility. Image: Contributed

With the staffing of the two visitor information centres (VIC) – at South Grafton and Ferry Park, Maclean – due to be replaced with digital tourism portals, how and where will tourists get their information once they are in the valley?
In June this year, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) put it this way when it exhibited information on its “dispersed delivery of tourism services”: “…we [council staff] move around and make sure we’re in areas of high visitor traffic.
“In other words, rather than requiring visitors to come to the highway for information centres, we’ll go to them.”
In last week’s story, CVC tourism: the digital paradigm, the council’s Strategic and Economic manager, David Morrison, outlined how CVC was marketing tourism online via social media; this week the Independent looks at the digital and human interfaces that the council will provide in the Clarence Valley.
One argument against going digital at the VICs laments the removal of people from the equation.
However, CVC reports that only 8.1 per cent of visitors to the valley visit the VICs: 4.1 per cent at South Grafton and 4 per cent at Maclean – “a 40 per cent decline since 2000”.
In making its case for digital delivery, CVC says that visitors to the valley “are 100 per cent on the internet on a weekly basis, and 80 percent of them make their decision about where to go on their smartphone [starting] their research 20 weeks before they leave”.
Nevertheless, CVC emphasises that “the other MOST important factor is; when [tourists] get to their holiday destination they want to talk to a local about what to do, where to eat etcetera”.
This dilemma is solved, CVC says, by having the council’s “information staff more mobile and able to be where the visitors are”.
Mr Morrison put it this way: “As roll out of the new model [commences], to take that service to where the visitors are through a mobile approach rather than relying on them coming to us, we’ll monitor figures.
“The new model will still offer information services but in a different but more relevant manner; such as touch screens, live chat, the normal phone accessibility, face to face at council business centres, and mobile face to face delivery with pop-up information centres utilising the mobile library bus model, which people are familiar with.
“Data will be captured as these methods are utilised.”
On industry development and engagement, Mr Morrison said there was an ongoing program “of skill development workshops, direct engagement with businesses and networking opportunities for those businesses to engage with each other”.
In addition to this the “Tourism and Hospitality Cluster has been running for about a year and has attracted up to 40 to 80 operator per session,” Mr Morrison said, “and the Cluster’s facebook group has over 160 members.”
Mr Morrison said these “figures suggest significantly improved engagement with industry” when compared to “to past attendance at the former Council Tourist Advisory Committee or [its] board membership”.
Next week the Independent explores the alternative view of former CRTA manager, Bill Day, in the final instalment of this four-part examination of CVC’s delivery of tourism services in the valley.