The South Burnett Regional Council is considering the option of pulling staff out of managing the region’s Visitor Information Centres and having the centres run entirely by volunteers

August 20, 2018

The South Burnett Regional Council is considering turning over management of the region’s five Visitor Information Centres (VICs) to the volunteers who staff them.

At the moment, two council staff manage the centres – one responsible for Wondai and Murgon; and the other for Kingaroy, Nanango and Blackbutt.

The SBRC has managed the VICs since council amalgamation in 2008.

The change is one of a number of suggestions in a report about what the future holds for VICs prepared by council’s Economic Development Unit.

Another suggestion being investigated is whether VICs could become involved in bicycle hire in connection with the Rail Tail.

Senior Economic Development Officer Craig Tunley outlined some issues about VICs in his quarterly economic development report, which was received at last Wednesday’s monthly council meeting.

These include duplicated documentation (nine different versions of the Operations Manual for all five VICs) and a tourist wi-fi system unable to produce useful data.

Mr Tunley said a new three-part Operations Manual had been developed and was being reviewed by staff.

He said the free wi-fi system for VIC visitors was also shared with council’s libraries, which made it hard to extract data about tourist usage of the system.

“This means that the VICs will have to put together a system of their own as a way of capturing stats,” he said.

A third problem was that there did not appear to be audits of stock held and/or sold through the VICs.

Mr Tunley said audits would now be conducted, starting with the Kingaroy VIC.

A fourth problem was that there appeared to be a disconnect between VIC volunteers and tourism operators. Mr Tunley said he has launched surveys of volunteers and operators to see if this could be improved.

Mr Tunley’s department was also reviewing VIC statistics since 2008 to determine increases or decreases in tourist numbers over time, as well as the most common regions visitors come from.

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Discover South Burnett is asking tourism operators if its recent marketing actions are really what they want.

The council-operated tourism body launched an online survey last week asking the region’s tourism operators how they believed Destination Icons, Destination Events and the Destination Marketing Mix should be identified.

The survey asked operators whether they agree or disagreed that the Bunya Mountains, the dams, the South Burnett Rail Trail and the wineries were Destination Icons and whether the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, the Burrandowan Picnic Races, BaconFest, the Blackbutt Avocado Festival, the Nanango Country Muster and Waterhole Rocks were Destination Events.

The 18-question survey also asks if the recently published “Let’s Go” magazine should be published again, and if the quarterly “South Burnett Unpacked” get-togethers for VIC volunteers, Councillors and Economic Development Unit staff were useful and informative.

The online survey, which does not ask for personally identifying data, is open until September 1.

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The quarterly economic development report also revealed that the Tourism South Burnett Facebook page acquired an extra 404 “likes” between April and June after paying $200 apiece for two boosted posts and a further $70.60 for two page promotions.

This boosted the two-year-old page’s total likers from 2033 to 2437.

Mr Tunley said about 38 per cent of the page’s audience were located in the South Burnett, with the remainder spread between Brisbane, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Dalby and coastal destinations from the Gold Coast to Bundaberg; 53 per cent of the page’s followers were women aged 25 to 54, and another 20 per cent were men aged 25-44, and 45-64.

The demographics of the page closely match the South Burnett Regional Council’s own Facebook page.

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