Ballina councillor issues warning over ‘tourism threat’
MOVING the Ballina Visitor Information Centre to the Kentwell Community Centre in a bid to cut costs could hurt tourism in the region, Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader has warned.
The recommendation to investigate the idea further was put forward at a Ballina Council meeting on Tuesday and passed 9/1.
Cr Cadwallader voted against any further investigations into the Kentwell site, arguing the current site for the Visitor Information Centre near the river, maritime museum, town centre and waterslide was the best location for promoting tourism in the town.
"I think it's important to showcase Ballina as best we can," she said.
"The 50,000 face to face visitors is no small number and tourism is one of our biggest economic drivers."
Cr Cadwallader said tourism brings new money to the region and employs a large number of people.
Under the proposals, the Visitor Information Centre would be relocated to the front of the Kentwell Community Centre while the Visitor Information Centre would be converted to a community meeting space.
The recommendation said that the meeting facilities at the Kentwell Centre were already 'at capacity' and generate very little revenue.
It said more space would be available for community meetings at the Information Centre and money could potentially be saved through staff consolidations.
Cr Cadwallader said even if money could be saved in the swap, having the information centre in the same building as the Ballina District Community Services Association, Community Transport and St Andrews Aboriginal Respite could give visitors the wrong impression.
"There's savings to be made but I don't think it's a good mix," she said.
"We already have an aging population but we don't want to showcase that to the extent that visitors come to Kentwell Community Centre.
"We want to promote Ballina in the best, most exciting way that we can."
North Coast Destination Network executive officer Belinda Novick said the local tourism body would support either option.
"Once they have made their decision we will work with them either way to make sure we grow visitation," she said.
"The main thing is to take into consideration the needs of our visitors."
Ms Novick said further council investigations would help determine which site would most benefit tourism.