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‘Steady decline’ in BH tourism

Tuesday, 25th September, 2018

By Emily Roberts

Broken Hill recorded a drop in the number of tourists at the Visitor Information Centre last financial year, which one councillor has attributed to an “unfocused” marketing plan.

The city had 96,519 visitors to the centre in 2017/2018, not hitting Council’s target of increasing numbers on the previous year.

Council also aimed to maintain a 90 per cent occupancy rate of the Visitor Information Centre last financial year, but it only managed to achieve 60 per cent - two office/shop spaces are unfilled.

Councillor Tom Kennedy said he had been contacted about the space available for rent.

“I’ve had a number of people contact me regarding the rental space available,” Clr Kennedy said. “People have been told that the space might not be for rent.

“But it shouldn’t be difficult to fill, it’s often sought after.

“The rent is quite reasonable.”

Clr Kennedy said there has been a steady decline in visitors to the centre over the years.

“Council’s marketing strategy, in my opinion, has been very unfocused for years.

“The numbers in tourism have been in decline. It’s been down for a number of years in a row.

“I noticed the spiralling numbers seemed to happen once Council stopped going to caravan and trade shows.

“Instead of marketing to consumers, they had a regional marketing campaign which hasn’t worked.

“We always received favourable feedback from those shows. It was a good way to showcase what Broken Hill had to offer.”

Clr Kennedy said Broken Hill needs a marketing strategy that is connected to the community and the city.

But Silver City Tours’ Wincen Cuy, a former city mayor, said he believed numbers were down because accommodation was hard to find.

“Caravan parks are another kettle of fish. But with the windfarm, pipeline developments as well as mine workers, accommodation is full.

“It’s as good as I can remember and is consistently good across the board.

“I feel full accommodation may contribute to a lack of visitors.”

Mr Cuy said the lack of bus companies may have been a contributing factor in the poor occupancy rate of the Visitor Information Centre.

“It’s hard to rent the stores of the VIC, it’s just a realistic part of it.

“Once the bus companies stopped coming, the offices remained vacant.

“It has been traditionally difficult to keep it at full occupancy.”

Council also reported a decline in the number of visits to its tourism website. 

Council said website contractor Adventures Group had failed to provide monthly visitation stats.

It also said the decrease at the VIC followed a national trend.

It seems to be a trend across the board with visits to the Art Gallery down by 200 and the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum down 500.

But the Living Desert had  an increase of three per cent. Council attributed this to the opening of a campsite.

The city’s Executive Manager of Strategic Development - responsible for the “visitor economy” - resigned in January and Council has said the role will remain vacant indefinitely.

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