Temporary solutions to closure of KI visitor centre

CLOSED SIGN: The "temporarily closed" sign in the door of the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre at Penneshaw. Photo supplied
CLOSED SIGN: The "temporarily closed" sign in the door of the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre at Penneshaw. Photo supplied

Tourism Kangaroo Island is working to provide alternative information servicing mechanisms for intending and actual visitors to the Island.

This follows the temporary closure of the KI Visitor Information Centre at Penneshaw that started on Sunday, March 24.

TKI chairman Pierre Gregor said these alternatives would provide a temporary solution to help ensure visitors to KI continue to be able to tailor their visit and that potential visitors can access the information they need to create ongoing conversion, bookings and economic benefit for the Island.

TKI has developed A3 signage for placement on the front doors of the VIC informing of temporary closure and locations where visitors can obtain information and associated collateral.

It has also negotiated with businesses in key locations to stock the KI Visitor Guides and other material.

The initial businesses which will stock the collateral and information mentioned above include the Penneshaw Business Centre, Kangaroo Island Seafront hotel, SeaLink Ferry terminal, Kingscote Gift Shop, Island Beehive, Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

"TKI will continue to communicate regularly with these alternative sites and each of the businesses have agreed to work with us to ensure all collateral is updated," Mr Gregor wrote to TKI members. "We are happy to add additional locations."

CLOSED SIGN: The "temporarily closed" sign in the door of the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre at Penneshaw. Photo supplied

CLOSED SIGN: The "temporarily closed" sign in the door of the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre at Penneshaw. Photo supplied

TKI is also progressing negotiations with the Victor Harbour Visitor Centre to accept redirected phone calls and emails generated through its website.

"Unfortunately there is significant mis-information currently doing the rounds via social media," Mr Gregor wrote.

"Accordingly what I would like to say is that the closure is temporary and that TKI is currently negotiating with the KI Council to establish an acceptable way forward.

"Across Australia, and more widely, the provision of visitor information services is not a money making activity.

"It is a service that promotes the region, provides insight to experiences, activities and things like accommodation and eating options often resulting in a visitor spending more and staying longer. The major financial beneficiary of the VIC service is the Island and its businesses, rather than the VIC itself."

Reactions to closure

The Shadow Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison and local State Member, Leon Bignell have expressed concern at the closure of the KI Visitor Information Centre on the weekend. 

The Visitor Centre is based in a building that is owned by the Kangaroo Island Council but operated by Tourism KI. 

Despite lobbying efforts from Tourism KI to the local council, new funding is yet to be secured, Ms Bettison said.

During Question Time in Parliament last week, she said Tourism Minister David Ridgway said he had yet to discuss the issue with the South Australian Tourism Commission.

"The tourism industry is important to the Kangaroo Island economy. Visitors to the Island spent $168 million in the 2016-17 financial year. The industry is also an important jobs generator, one in five jobs are tourism related," she said.

"The Liberal's $11m cut to the tourism budget continues to take its toll on the industry. It is an embarrassment that Minister Ridgway has not even bothered to take action to fix this situation.

"Kangaroo Island is one of the most iconic tourism destinations in Australia. The Marshall Liberal Government needs to support local tourism in KI and provide emergency funding to keep the Visitor Centre open."

Mr Bignell meanwhile said tourism was a major employer and was a critical part of the Island's economy.

"All Islanders will suffer without information available to visitors on arrival," Mr Bignell said. "Many businesses owned and run by locals promote their unique tourism experiences at the Visitor Centre. I call on the Government to find a solution to this issue."

The Labor members also supplied a quote from Ian Drummond, executive chairman of Aurora Hotels that operates the Aurora Ozone Hotel in Kingscote.

"This is a retrograde step, and a solution must be found to reopen this valuable service to independent travelers," Mr Drummond said.

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