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Editions

Plans for Western Gateway tourism service shelved

08 May 2014

Plans for Western Gateway tourism service shelved Image

Docklands is likely to miss out on a potential tourism booster, with plans for a visitor service currently off the table.

The City of Melbourne last month shelved plans for a Southern Cross Station visitor centre after failing to secure a funding partner for the initiative.

At a Future Melbourne Committee meeting on April 8, councillors voted unanimously to cease work on the project until other parties could commit funding and resources.

Council had been attempting to find a partner for the visitor service since December last year, after a report into a visitor service trial revealed minimal enquiries relating to Melbourne itself.

The trial visitor service operated at the station between September and November last year and, according to a council report, just 25 per cent of enquiries related to Melbourne as a visitor destination.

Of these, less than 1 per cent of enquiries related to Docklands, according to the report.

However, instances of proactive promotion of Docklands to visitors were not recorded.

Council officers met with stakeholders from Tourism Victoria, Public Transport Victoria, VLine, SkyBus and AssetCo (manager of Southern Cross Station during February and March) to propose a partnership model for the service.

Council had suggested a model, which would equate to it contributing 25 per cent to the operation costs, equivalent to the percentage of Melbourne-related enquiries recorded during the trial.

However, none of the parties contacted have committed to funding or supporting the visitor service.

According to a report presented at the April 8 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, most of the parties have expressed their support for a visitor service but could not currently commit funds.

The report states that SkyBus is currently negotiating with AssetCo on a new operational model at Southern Cross Station and that AssetCo is willing to consider the proposal and provide in-kind support, but that this is dependent on other parties’ ability to contibute.

Cr Beverley Pinder-Mortimer said the idea of co-locating a visitor service with other services had not been positive to date.

“It’s refreshing to know that Skybus and AssetCo are in discussion and perhaps there might be a positive outcome from that,” Cr Pinder-Mortimer said.

“We look forward to the possibility of a new operational model coming through from those discussions.

The report recommended that no further work on the visitor service should be carried out until other parties could commit resources and funding.

Destination Docklands CEO Anita Donnelly said she was too busy to comment on the visitor service.

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