The City of Victor Harbor is changing the way it delivers visitor services with plans underway to consolidate the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and SA Whale Centre.
Following an upgrade to the Railway Goods Shed, the building currently occupied by the SA Whale Centre, the Visitor Information Centre will operate in conjunction with the Whale Centre, from early 2021.
Each year around 1.2 million visitors come to Victor Harbor, injecting $153 million into the local economy.
The VIC and SA Whale Centre each currently service around five per cent of these visitors, with the vast majority of tourists using digital platforms for tourism information and local experiences.
While face-to-face visitor information services will remain an important offering, combining the two centres provides the opportunity for more resources to be channeled into the development of online tourism platforms that will service a larger percentage of visitors and also assist in boosting visitation to Victor Harbor.
The consolidation is also expected to save the City of Victor Harbor up to $150,000 per annum, and will support the recruitment of a digital marketing officer to drive a new destination marketing strategy for Victor Harbor.
City of Victor Harbor Mayor Moira Jenkins said the City of Victor Harbor was unique in the fact that it was responsible for tourism assets like the SA Whale Centre and VIC and owner of the iconic Victor Harbor Horse Tram.
"While the council understands that these services are really important to the local community and tourism economy, we have a responsibility to ensure these services are efficiently operated and they continue to meet the changing needs of visitors who frequent our region," Dr Jenkins said.
"There is significant research that shows a clear shift in consumer behaviour with visitors increasingly using online and digital technology to inform travel choices, plan trips and source information while at their destination.
"We want to play a greater role in influencing people to travel to Victor Harbor through this work. The council knows it has work to do in this space and this has been a key motivation in our decision to change how we deliver visitor services.
"Our volunteers at the VIC and SA Whale Centre will remain an important part of the visitor experience and we will be working closely with them during this transition.
"We are working towards transitioning the VIC into the SA Whale Centre building early next year, while continuing to support our visitors during our busy summer holiday period."
Council's lease of the VIC premises provides an exit clause, requiring council to give two years notice of its intention to terminate the lease. This formal notice has been provided to the landlord.
"The council understands the importance of activating the foreshore space and we are currently exploring opportunities to sub-lease the site," Dr Jenkins said.
"Right now our focus is on preparing for the transition, working with our staff and volunteers to prepare the SA Whale Centre, and notifying tourism businesses and our corporate partners of the changes."
Visit www.victor.sa.gov.au/visitorservices for more information about the changes to Council's visitor services.