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Batemans Bay Visitor Centre to close in February 2021 to “fish where the fish are feeding”

Eurobodalla councillors will vote next week to endorse the implementation of the new model for the delivery of visitor information services.

The "new model" recommends the closure and sale of the Batemans Bay Information Centre and that council go to market for the lease of the Narooma Visitor Information premises

The review, commissioned by Council, recommends a move away from the current static Accredited Visitor Information Centres (AVIC) servicing model to a business partnership and digitally based model.

The findings of the review clearly identify that the current model is broken and there is a shift required to “fish where the fish are feeding” – taking visitor information to where visitors are rather than expecting them to come to the information.

It is intended to close the Batemans Bay Centre on the 28 February 2021, replacing the service with the business partnership model. Expressions of interest will be sort for the lease or sale of the property. This should be interesting to watch as the parcel of land, gifted to the Council by the Church, has a historic cemetery as a bonus for any prospective buyer.

The intention would be to replace the Centres by establishing a network of local business partnerships such as hotels, motels, clubs, cafes, restaurants and attractions. Another suggestions of a local business partnership might be Mobile and pop-up stalls for events and peak periods, Stands, signage and installations, and "Ambassadors", being local characters and industry leaders right down to residents in the local community as volunteer ambassadors.

Taking a new focus the intention is to engage interest in the region via personal recommendations from friends and relatives. The Review says that these "are unrivalled in their capacity to influence consumer decisions, especially relating to holidays and leisure time."

"Encouraging residents to be part of the destination’s ‘marketing team’ by reaching out to their friends and relatives will deliver real results and lift the awareness and perception of the region."

This philosophy is most likely the driver behind the recent Postcards campaign "Pick a postcard from one of the galleries to invite a friend or family member to visit our beautiful region".

The Review suggests "Importantly, this approach contributes to a sense of civic pride and builds a more positive perception by locals about the type of people who will visit the destination, year-round. The strategy involves implementation of an appropriate VFR marketing solution or platform, populated with the best content to inspire and encourage residents to invite their friends and relatives to visit the region. Once content is developed and the platform ready to launch, an activation strategy should be implemented to raise awareness of the program within the local community."

The next recommendation we might see from the Review could involve a ‘Be a Tourist in Your Own Town’ style of event that runs over nine days, bookended by the two weekends.

"Other elements could include a local competition encouraging residents to share their favourite places and experiences." This probably explains the recent Perfect Pic competition. The bottom line is that Visitor Information Centres are now a relic of the past and Council is looking at what it can do to entice tourists to the region using all the tools it can think of to “fish where the fish are feeding”

Time to replace the old lures in order to “fish where the fish are feeding”

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