Our local Visitor Information Centres (VICs) continue to evolve and develop new strategies to assist in providing information on the Central Highlands to visitors. The VICs continue to be one of the most beneficial activities and principal referral points in the suite of promotional activities undertaken across the communities. The valuable service provided by the VICs in the Central Highlands also offer a great engagement opportunity for the many volunteers. Donating their time behind the counter also gives those volunteers a social outlet and provides a sense of pride in what they do.

VICs operate differently region to region. Some sell product on a commission basis, retaining a set percentage on all sales of accommodation or tours. Most rely on sales of local products, hand crafts, souvenirs, and books, just to mention a few. Some VICs undertake community roles such as the publication of a local phone book and a number also act in partnership with local businesses and charge for particular services. All of this not only creates an income for the VIC, it also offers valuable services back to the community.

So what is the value of our VICs to our local economy? While they generate income in several ways, their real value is the service that they provide in promoting local businesses. Although it can be hard to quantify a dollar conversion rate to operators (products that are purchased by visitors as a result of a direct referral from a VIC), we accept that the income would be significant and include accommodation, tours, groceries, personal items and general items such as fuel, tyre, repairs etc.

Using the Central Highlands VIC in Emerald as the example, and applying the calculation to just 50 percent of the 30,000 people through the Information Centre, a reliable dollar amount can be determined. Having a local tourism ambassador/volunteer who can persuade a visitor to stay just one more day will influence the dollars spent. In the Central Highlands, statistics and research tell us that day visitors spend $168.00 per 24 hours.

So, let’s look at some basic calculations. If VIC referrals influence just 50 percent of our visitors (30,000), then it is highly probable that this 15,000 multiplied by the dollar spend per day ($168) will generate $2,520,000 annually into local business bank accounts. Not a bad return to local businesses and all provided for free.

This can be extrapolated out to include all VICs and the valuable service that they provide and also the amount of dollars that their referral could mean into the local economy, be it Springsure, Emerald, Blackwater or across the broader Central Highlands.

For more information or a catch-up, contact Peter Grigg E: tourism@chdc.com.au or T: (07) 4982 4386

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