Editorial March 17th 2023
Welcome to this week’s editorial, This time of year sees the visitation of the Grey Nomads. School is back, the roads are a little more empty, as too the camping areas and caravan parks. It is a prefect time of year to be travelling. Not too hot, not too cold and the water temps aren’t too bad. For those who have an interest in such things it is often rewarding to wander up to a Grey Nomad and engage them in conversation. Where are they from? Where are they going?, What do they enjoy discovering, and most importantly, how do they source their information. Traditionally they would arrive in the region and find the local Visitor Information Centre with its maps, its brochures and its welcoming staff happy to answer all kinds of questions. But those Information Centres are gone. Closed by Council having been advised that they would be better off directing their budget and efforts to where “the fish are biting”. Those “fish” are the social media scrollers who derive their travel inspiration from seven second TikToc and Instagram influencers who dole out gloss seduction in the “look at me” world in which they live. Definitely not the world of our Grey Nomads. The Nomads are old school. They enjoy poring over a map, reading accounts of different places in their Open Road magazines and talking around a campfire with others gaining recommendations. Mostly with a van in tow they are self contained and usually en-route to somewhere. Fortunately for Eurobodalla we are on that circuit. But when you talk with them about their experiences within the region the thing they mention the most is the absence of a visitors centre. An example is Batemans Bay. No Visitors Centre and no evidence of anything that either welcomes or informs. Yes, they could Google. Try it yourself. VisitNSW, Wiki, and even the Council tourism info for Batemans Bay is pretty light on. Council’s tourism page offers the 10 best things to do in Batemans Bay of which seven are out of town. We just had an interesting exercise when the Seabourn Odyssey visited Batemans Bay. The traditional Council tourism welcome marquee and visitor volunteers were absent and the traditional exchange of plaques and welcome to place was fortunately organised by the local Chamber of Commerce committee and volunteers. As it turned out the welcome and exchange was memorable and added to the enjoyment and experience of the hundreds of passengers and crew who came ashore. Well done to the Chamber. But for those who did come ashore they were well prepared having been given a seven page overview, that I prepared, of the township, its features, facilities, services and its history. This document was prepared by me.
A welcoming gesture, a simple overview that served the purpose one might expect of a Visitor Centre with its brochures, maps and information boards.
Having taken the initiative to prepare and then see distributed this specific information the idea expanded as to how, with little, if any cost, the town might replace its now absent Visitor Information Centre with warm, welcoming, relevant and informative local content available to those who have a mobile phone. A simple task—provide a QR Code and a welcoming sign to direct visitors, by cruise, by car, by seaplane, to a quality website that answers most of their questions and celebrates the town and the region. The comments made by a blinkered upstart in Council (now moved on fortunately) that QR codes will never take on still irks as we lost so much momentum from his stance, and a continued legacy of his, and others, shortcomings remain that stifle to this day. Rather than accept mediocrity I created The South Coast Travel Guide, which I have built over several years, celebrating this stunning corner of the planet and hopefully offering the depth of information that an intelligent, inquisitive visitor or newcomer to the region might welcome. Taking the lead of the Moruya Chamber, that I put in place, a Batemans Bay SCAN ME sign has been designed and made available for proactive businesses in the Bay to reproduce and display in their shopfronts, directing visitors the comprehensive Batemans Bay page of the South Coast Travel Guide (www.southcoasttravelguide.com.au)
Above: rather than paying thousands to a cartographer and third party software provider the above map was made using Google Maps and has an interactive equivalent on the website. If you haven't explored the South Coast Travel Guide website then please have a look. The website is my gift to my region and community and it celebrates as best I can the detail that the social media “fish” have little time for. A simple solution, so simple in fact that Council tourism could well have done it two years ago… and directed visitors to their own tourism website. But maybe they were too focussed on the “fish”. Until next—lei NOTE: as you wander through the pages of the South Coast Travel Guide with all its history and celebration of the region you might wonder at how just one bloke with a laptop could put it all together and why..... For thirty six years I have met travellers to the area who have little idea of what to do, where to go, what to see beyond the razzamatazz. Granted the Council's website has improved dramatically over the past six years. But one would hope so with a budget of $1.2m per annum. So as the council focusses on going where the "fish" are in their marketing to bring people to the region I will continue doing what I can to better inform those who have arrived and wander the streets wondering where they are and what they can do. All it relies on is the local shopkeepers and the chambers to put up some welcoming signs with a QR code. Some in Moruya have already done so thanks to their Chamber.