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by Allira Preece
The future relevance of the Kew Visitor Information Centre (VIC) following the conclusion of the Pacific Highway bypass was the subject of discussion at a meeting last Thursday night.
More than 30 people attended the meeting at Steaks on Kew, including members from the Port Macquarie Hastings Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and the Greater Port Macquarie Tourist Association.
The meeting was addressed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Peter Winfield, who said the Information Centre is in a prime position to supply information to drivers visiting the popular North Coast holiday region.
“We believe this facility should be upgraded and enlarged,” he said.
“A development of the site to a fully functional comfort stop would be the first of a kind in NSW.
“This would induce travellers to leave the highway and discover the greater Port Macquarie to showcase and sell our region,” he said.
Chair for the evening and Manager of Marketing and Sales from Momentum Investments and Insurance, Geoff Woodham, said the highway bypass will impact greatly on the Kew VIC.
“We need to put together a strategy to redirect the traffic and have a suitable venue for people to park and explore information,” he said.
Tourism Manager of Port Macquarie Hastings Council Linda Hall said no decision had been made by council in terms of the future of Kew’s VIC.
“As the village centre manager and as the person responsible for that particular service in council, it would be irresponsible of me not to review our service delivery and also to review in terms of the economic value to the community,” she said.
“However, our visitation is declining. We were only able to generate $14,000 through Kew last year and that was a six per cent decrease on the year before, so we’re not only seeing visitation decline, we’re also seeing sales decline,” she continued.
“We do need to look at an improvement and we do need to look at a way forward to ensure that Kew Visitor Centre has a meaningful place in the wider tourism community.”
Rotary Mid North Coast representative, David Mayne said Kew acted as the gateway to the Camden Haven.
“Every single president that represents Rotary agreed we do not want to lose representation and the entry to our region,” Mr Mayne said.
“We’ve drafted a few letters that will go to the administrator and the general manager, but sadly we only have them to deal with now.
“We do not want Kew VIC centre to be moved, and we would like to be involved in the designing and implementation of some visitor information centre that is user, traveller and tourist friendly.
President of the greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association Cathy Balodis added that technology now plays a prominent role in attracting tourists to certain businesses.
“It’s about touch screens, sending information to mobile phones, or an image that can go on a billboard making an offer as they’re driving up the highway,” she said.
“There is the capability of technology for that in the future.
Mrs Bolodis also said there is a future market in Recreational Vehicles due to tourist interests.
“We have to have a recreational friendly town, and this is a great opportunity for Kew,” she said. “The only thing we have to do is give them a dump spot, which means that they come in and we simply have to connect them to the sewerage.
“Queensland’s jumped on the wagon already. The Queensland Government’s paid all the regional areas to install them, but NSW is behind the eight ball and this is a real opportunity for us,” she said.
It will also allow the businesses of Kew to thrive,” she added.
Peter Winfield concluded the meeting by stating that they were looking for public/private partnership to ensure implementation as soon as possible.
“We understand the impact of tourism and if this is closed it will affect a lot of businesses,” he said.
“Once the bypass goes into place there’s not a VIC from north of Sydney until you reach here.”
He said another meeting will be held in the near future to discuss further decisions regarding the centre.
For more information contact Mr Winfield at the Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce on 6559 9088.
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