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Image: Courtesy McKimms Real Estate

VIC fails to sell; former tourism boss advocates alternative

Geoff Helisma |
Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) former visitor information centre (VIC) on the highway at Spring Street, South Grafton failed to sell at an onsite auction conducted by McKimms Real Estate on Thursday April 12.
No bids were made on the property. At last weeks’ April 17 council meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to put the property on the market for $1.2million (plus GST). Once sold, the funds will be put into CVC’s Strategic Building Reserve. Meanwhile, Clarence River Tourism Association manager Bill Day, who managed the association for 20 years and has been a consistent and vocal critic of CVC’s handling of tourism, has made another attempt at changing councillors’ minds. “It’s no secret that I have strongly opposed the closure and sale of the VIC,” Mr Day wrote to CVC’s general manager and councillors. “Many local people share my concerns.” Instead of selling the property, Mr Day has suggested that CVC relocate its “entire” Economic Development Unit EDU – the CVC unit that manages tourism services – to the building. “Train all EDU staff to be able to handle visitor enquiries on weekdays in addition to their other duties,” he wrote. “Contract with a community group to operate the VIC on weekends and public holidays – some level of remuneration would be required.” Mr Day listed reasons to support his proposal. “By far the largest tourism market for the Clarence Valley is the self-drive domestic market and this market extensively uses and relies on VICs,” he wrote. “Other councils in regional Australia are funding improvement and expansion of their VIC services (check Blue Mountains and Coffs Harbour for just two examples).” Mr Day points out some advantages he perceives, including: “The EDU can continue with their existing tourism work (including social media marketing) plus their other responsibilities from this high profile, well designed headquarters; the VIC has excellent parking for cars, caravans, coaches; the VIC has excellent rest-rooms; and, the VIC is well sign-posted and is easy to find.” The full text of Mr Day’s letter, is published here Clarence Valley Council has largely digitised its tourism services, which can be accessed online or at several digital information hubs in various places throughout the valley. The council also utilises targeted pop-up hubs and the mobile library van to disseminate tourism services at appropriate times.