January 8, 2022

The Story of Two Towns: Batemans Bay Visitor Center Goes Online, Merimbula Information Center Needs More Volunteers

The Batemans Bay Visitor Center is in the market. Photo: Tom McGann.

While the Eurobodalla Shire Council visitor center in Batemans Bay has a ‘for sale’ sign adorning its exterior further up the coast in Merimbula, their is asking for volunteers to help cope with an expected influx of travelers. this holiday season.

February 21 was the last day the doors of the Batemans Bay Information Center opened, with the much-publicized CBD site now for rent or for sale.

Tourists seeking assistance will now have to access Eurobodalla Tourism website where they can browse various links and pages with details of activities they can enjoy in the county, or visit one of the council’s business partners.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has closed visitor reception centers in Batemans Bay and Narooma after a review of their services found less than 10% of visitors using them.

“The Visitor Information Center was established decades ago when people made very different travel decisions,” a council spokesperson said.

“Websites, social media and personal recommendations are now by far the most popular source of information about visitors before and during a trip. “

READ ALSO: Bushfires and COVID shift focus from Eurobodalla elections to environment, transparency and economic recovery

Although this is the approach to Eurobodalla, the situation couldn’t be more different further up the coast in Merimbula where the visitor center is looking for 10 new volunteers to prepare for what is expected to be a very busy holiday season. loaded.

Merimbula Tourism Director Chris Nicholls couldn’t disagree more with the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s decision, saying that with the lockdowns now over, Sydneysiders are eager to travel this vacation, making the reception centers more essential than ever for welcoming guests to the city.

“In a typical year, we would have 40,000 to 50,000 people coming to our reception center,” Nicholls said.

Anticipating how busy this season will be, Mr Nicholls cannot understand why the Batemans Bay Visitor Center has closed.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

“Reception centers need person-to-person communication; many visitors will ask the staff about the best things to do in the area and the local staff are packed with knowledge to tell them about the area. You cannot do this online.

    Merimbula Tourist Information Center

The Merimbula Tourist Information Center is located at CentrePoint Square in Market Street, Merimbula. Photo: Supplied.

Mr. Nicholls emphasized that personal interactions are very important.

He has seen with his own eyes in his town and its information center how visitors will talk to volunteers and locals to gather information about the area, the various recreational activities they can do, the natural and beautiful surroundings that they can visit and the different places to eat.

“We have online platforms, but we are finding that people will always call our drop-in center to speak to locals and have this conversation,” he said.

“This is something visitors to the bay are going to miss. “

Not only will this move change the way visitors to the city find out what they can do, but it will also take away a simple but important factor according to Chris Nicholls – a warm welcome.

READ ALSO: Promising Signs As South Coast Tourism Comes To Life

Without the friendly hello from a local to the center, visitors will be left at a web page to read by themselves.

“It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but many vacationers appreciate the welcome,” Nicholls said.

“It makes them feel like they’re part of the city.

If visitors were to make it to the Batemans Bay Information Center now, they would come across nothing but an empty building for sale and a QR code on the old entrance that will take them to the website.

“It just won’t be the same – visitors want to ask locals what to do in the area, not read a website,” Nicholls said.

Despite this, Eurobodalla Shire Council stresses that the website will function as well as the original drop-in center.

“The new model is to bring visitor information to where visitors are, rather than expecting them to come to a physical center,” the spokesperson said.

“The new model focuses on the market of our visiting friends and relatives – engaging locals and providing them with information on where to take visitors. “

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