Just as southern Tasmanian tourism operators were glimpsing a little light at the end of the Covid19 shutdown tunnel, Huon Valley Council has decided to throw regional tourism on the Covid19 slag heap. This will lead to people who want face to face visitor information turning to the Hobart Visitor Centre, which as its name suggests, will encourage people to stay in Hobart, rather than overnight in the regional south.
News Release from Huon Council follows in full below.
Huon Valley Escapes continues to offer tourist information for Hobart, Bruny Island, Huon Valley and far South Tasmania. Online resources at www.huonvalleyescapes.net or from 9am to 7pm phone info is available (03) 6264 2233.
MEDIA RELEASE 7 May 2020
Closure of the Huonville and Geeveston
Visitor Information Centres
Valley Council has made the difficult decision to close its Visitor Information Centre in
Huonville and visitor information space in Geeveston.
The comprehensive review of Council’s continued management and ownership of the
centres showed that operating circumstances have become more challenging over the past
12 months. At its March 2020 Special Meeting, Council resolved to continue to operate the Huonville
and Geeveston Visitor Centres, with a view to move towards a cost-neutral service model
for their continued operation.
“Unfortunately, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the back of the downturn following the 2019 bushfires, this was going to be a very difficult task,” said Huon Valley Council Mayor Bec Enders.
A further review was undertaken to address new challenges and the rapidly changing
circumstances brought about by the current health crisis. At its 29 April 2020 Ordinary
Meeting, Council resolved to wind up operation of both centres due to the loss of tourism in
the region and budget constraints.
“The COVID-19 Emergency will continue to have effects on visitation in the Huon Valley in
the medium and long term, with limitations and restrictions on travel, public gatherings and
social distancing,” said Cr Enders.
“Many people have lost employment and probably won’t have funds available for leisure
travel for some time until the COVID-19 emergency is over. People are also likely to avoid
international travel for some time.
“The decision to close the centres has come after a thorough, comprehensive review of
Council’s visitor information services, and was not taken lightly. The approach to supporting
the visitor economy in the Huon Valley needs to be considered in the context of and in
response to the health crisis, and unfortunately this means closing the visitor centres in
Huonville and Geeveston.
“Community engagement will commence soon on re-imagining the use of the vacant spaces
within the Geeveston Town Hall. We are excited about facilitating the discussion with our
community about how the Geeveston Town Hall can become not only a tourist destination
but also a vibrant community hub.”
Council’s decision to no longer provide visitor information centre services will ensure that
we can appropriately manage Council’s budget impacts of COVID-19, and continue to deliver
the services our community really needs.
“Council acknowledges that the visitor centres have provided significant value to the
community, local economy and the tourism sector, with many small tourism operators and
artisans having relied upon them,” said Cr Enders.
“Investment in dedicated and passionate people is a crucial part of providing and
showcasing the best of what the Valley has to offer, because it means we see more people
visiting the region, and more new residents joining our community.”
Cr Enders says Council remains committed to supporting the Huon Valley tourism and
business community as we respond to COVID-19.
“With a renewed focus, drive and dedication to deliver on our promises, we look forward to
progressing initiatives under the Huon Valley brand program.
“Council sincerely thanks each and every staff member for their dedication and passion in
delivering professional and well-regarded visitor information services to our community and
our visitors over the past ten years.”
For more information: Mayor Bec Enders (03) 6264 0300