Directional signage - what the Councillor wasn't told by Lei Parker
On December 13th, 2016, Councillor Phil Constable received a reply to his Question On Notice He had previously advised the Council and Councillors "Tourism is a significant industry, with a value to the local economy in excess of $400m per annum. The ability of our visitors, and residents, to be able to navigate to the many experiences, attractions and services on offer in the Eurobodalla is essential to the ongoing success and further development and growth of our tourism industry. Unfortunately, I have had a number of operators of tourism businesses raise with me their concern about the inadequacy of the current signage. In response to these concerns I request a response to the following questions. " "Does Council have a strategy for the provision of directional signage which is aimed at guiding visitors and community members to the diverse range of experiences, attractions and services in the Eurobodalla? If not, what action is being taken to address such deficiency and to ensure that this important need is being met on behalf of our tourism and business community, residents and visitors? " Councils response was to the question was: "In 2015-16, in consultation with the relevant chambers of commerce, Council arranged the design and installation of town entry signage for Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma. This work was initiated in response to a need identified by the relevant chambers, various businesses and tourism operators. These signs were designed and installed for a total cost of $150,048. A $5,000 grant from the Department of Trade and Industry was received for the project." "Council does not currently have a comprehensive strategy for the provision of directional signage across the whole of Eurobodalla. " They advised Clr Constable that: "Council has prepared a project brief for the engagement of a suitably qualified firm to prepare a comprehensive whole of destination integrated signage strategy for Eurobodalla." This strategy is expected to: - Identify at a high level the purpose, range and design of tourist, cultural and way finding signage across the Eurobodalla. - Include an audit of existing signage to identify gaps and opportunities to improve signage to enhance their visibility and effectiveness. - Identify key tourist destinations and routes, transport hubs, gateway locations, services and facilities. - Comply with Tourist Attraction Signposting Assessment Committee(TASAC) and Roads and Maritime Services signage guidelines.
Above: This is an example of the ONLY sign allowed under Tourist Attraction Signposting Assessment Committee(TASAC) and Roads and Maritime Services signage guidelines to be erected in a highway corridor.
- Achieve consistent themes and distinctive signage across the Eurobodalla. - Recommend a signage strategy implementation plan including priorities and costs. "The preparation of the strategy was not programmed or budgeted to be undertaken in the 2016-17 financial year. It is proposed that Council consider allocation of a budget as part of the December quarterly budget review to enable the preparation of a strategy to progress.The allocation of resources to implement the outcomes of the final strategy would need to be considered as part of future budgets." Councillor Constable had asked specifically about the development and provision of directional signage which is aimed at guiding visitors and community members to the diverse range of experiences, attractions and services in the Eurobodalla Council gave him a "nothing gonna be happening here for sometime" answer that would first require a strategy and a report and a whole lot of motherhood statement meetings with large pieces of paper and textas. Councillor Constble was actually after a bit more than that. Possibly signage such as that used on the North Coast that bears a photo to showcase the location and experience. Admittedly the example below is on a much larger scale than that proposed by Councillor Constable as this sign is located on a four lane high-speed motorway.
Most of the diverse ranges of experience, attractions and services in the Eurobodalla happen along the coast in our local hamlets such Dalmeny, Kianga, Sth Durras, Long Beach/Maloneys, Malua Bay, Lilli Pilli, Broulee, Tomakin, Mystery Bay yet there is little if any signage that highlights and showcases these locations to a passing motorist heading north or south on the Princes Highway. In 2014 the Tuross Head Business Owners Association had formally requested approach signs to the village along the Princes Highway to encourage visitors to detour into the village on a scenic drive as part of a tourism initiative. They suggested a sign like this:
The response to Councillor Constable on December 13th, 2016 failed to advise Clr Constable that Council had already taken nearly 18 months to write a Town Signs Policy that managed to specifically preclude anything that did not suit Council's Sign Policy or the Tourist Attraction Signposting Assessment Committee (TASAC) and Roads and Maritime Services signage guidelines. As it turns out not even Council's new Town Signs comply with their own new Town Sign Policy.You can read all the reasons why the signs don't apply in this article Once the Town Signs Policy was adopted it was revealed that it offered nothing in the way of any opportunity for a sign such as the one proposed. Council approached the RMS to assist the THBOA with information relating to the where such signs may be sited along the Princes Highway. Council wrote to the THBOA on Dec 10, 2015 stating: The RMS have advised that: - the current directional signage for Tuross township off the Princes Highway, is appropriate to the driving task and consistent with the standardised directional signposting throughout the NSW State road network the town also has approved extra tourist signage (white on brown) to advertise the seaside village of Tuross Head off the Princes Highway further billboard style town signage would not be permitted within the highway road reserve. - the RMS have no objection to signage going within private property provided it doesn’t distract drivers or create a hazard to users of the Princes Highway Currently the erection of billboard style town signage is not permissible upon private land. Council is pursuing a planning proposal (as at 10th December, 2015) to permit appropriate signage upon private land. This would still require referral to the RMS. The THBOA would be responsible for the capital and on-going costs of such signage, if it can be approved. All of the above would have been quite relevant in Council's response to Councillor Constable however they failed to mention it. All they could suggest in the report was the need to seek more money from the budget to carry out an audit, prepare a strategy and most interestingly "Identify key tourist destinations and routes, transport hubs, gateway locations, services and facilities." HELLO !!! Doesn't Eurobodalla Tourism already know the "key tourist destinations and routes, transport hubs, gateway locations, services and facilities" . Seems NOT if they are writing this in a report to a Councillor to be tabled at a Council meeting. Meanwhile up the road in Sholahaven Shire signs (examples below) of the style suggested by the THBOA and located within the RMS road reserve stand as a guide to visitors of the coastal destinations Shoalhaven has to offer.
Council has now commenced its 5 year review of the Destination Management Plan. In June 2015, Eurobodalla Shire Council adopted a Fit for the Future Improvement Proposal that had as a key action to support economic growth and development through a new Integrated Economic Growth and Development Strategy. Council resolved to take a leadership role in increasing its regional focus on economic and population growth and development, with an emphasis on supporting growth in business and tourism. That being said Council continues to primarily focus on the "Big Three" of Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma In around 2008, Eurobodalla Shire Council developed abrand, logo and style guide for Eurobodalla with catchytag lines for our major towns and the Tilba district. These towns are all part of the Princes Highway corridor. Part of the review of the Destination Management Plan is to develop a Eurobodalla Destination Action Plan that "identifies realistic and evidence-based strategic priorities and associated actions to guide the management, development and marketing of tourism over the next 5-years."
It might be a good time to remind the Destination Management Plan Review committee that: In the South Coast Region Destination Management Plan 2013 -2020 Plan, that includes Eurobodalla Shire as a signatory, it states: The overwhelming majority of visitors to the Region drive, and as such the journey needs to be a safe, positive and preferably, a learning experience. Rather than simply a conduit for passing through the area (eg the Hume Highway and,increasingly the Pacific Highway), the emphasis needs to be on retaining the existing character of the Princes Highway ‘experience’, engaging with travellers during their journey and raising awareness of and engendering a desire to visit the localities and attractions along the route. Directional signage throughout the Region is relatively poor and there is limited ‘motivational’ signage to encourage travellers to explore the Region.The Region is not defined by ‘inspirational’ gateway entry signs. Directional signage in many of the National Parks, State Forests and larger Crown Reserves is limited or absent, with the signage that is in place often being damaged or dated.In its Regional Priorities - Roads; Signage recommendations the South Coast Region Destination Management Plan 2013 -2020 identified : - Putting in place the signage (motivational, directional, interpretative) and other support infrastructure (eg public art) that raises awareness of the off-highway villages, localities and attractions and motivates travellers to visit. A coordinated approach is needed along the entire Highway corridor.
It is surprising that none of the above was offered in Council's response to Councillor Constable's very pointed question being: "Does Council have a strategy for the provision of directional signage which is aimed at guiding visitors and community members to the diverse range of experiences, attractions and services in the Eurobodalla? If not, what action is being taken to address such deficiency and to ensure that this important need is being met on behalf of our tourism and business community, residents and visitors? "
Editors Note: The sign above does not qualify, IMHO, as an ‘inspirational’ gateway entry sign