Visitor services to be transferred to City of Karratha

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Karratha Visitor Centre staff member Minori Muroya and general manager Anouska Angove.
Camera IconKarratha Visitor Centre staff member Minori Muroya and general manager Anouska Angove. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

Visitor service management in Karratha and Roebourne will be taken over by the City of Karratha from 2019 in a shake-up of the local industry.

At a June council meeting, City councillors unanimously voted to not re-tender for delivery of visitor information services — currently managed by the independent Karratha Visitor Centre —and instead bring the service in-house, following chronic funding issues. City of Karratha director of development services Ryan Hall said visitor information services were a key component to growing tourism in the Pilbara, but the traditional model of delivering those services had become financially unsustainable and required a new approach.

“The Karratha Visitor Centre management has acknowledged the financial difficulty it faces in delivering visitor information services and has worked hard to reduce expenses, however without a change to the model of delivery these challenges will persist,” he said.

“Bringing the services in-house will provide significant operational efficiencies and build on the good work that has been done to date and address the ongoing challenges faced by visitor centre management.”

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He said the City would now work with KVC staff to develop a transition plan.

“The current staff will remain in place until the end of the year and the City will undertake a recruitment process to employ staff for future operations,” he said.

In a written statement, KVC general manager Anouska Angove said their staff would work with the City to ensure a smooth changeover of the service.

“The board and staff of the Karratha and Roebourne Visitor Centre’s have been working closely with the City of Karratha over the past six months to improve the effective delivery of visitor information services in the Pilbara region,” she said.

“We look forward to working with the City of Karratha and assisting with a smooth transition of this service in 2019.”

At the meeting councillors also indicated they favoured continuing to run visitor information services out of the KVC’s current building, in response to a deputation from KVC member and The Ranges general manager Barry Harrison who warned re-locating the service would risk alienating the region’s dominant drive tourists.

The announcement comes after years of problems with the funding of visitor information services in the City of Karratha area.

In late 2016, a local government review of regional visitor services found City funding for both the Karratha and then-Roebourne Visitor Centres would be unsustainable at then-current levels.

As a result of that review, the KVC was awarded a new contract to be the single service provider in both Karratha and Roebourne for the next two years, but since then they have also struggled to secure sustainable funding at the same time as expenses have risen.

The City spends $395,000 a year, or one per cent of its annual rates revenue, on funding visitor information services and officers have predicted that cost will be reduced by bringing the service in-house.

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