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Securing the future of economic development and tourism

The City of Victor Harbor has committed to protecting the future of its iconic Horse Drawn Tram following a special council meeting that considered the findings of a broader review into council’s economic development and tourism services.

Council commenced a review process in 2013 to look into service levels and delivery options for all of its economic development and tourism functions including the South Australian Whale Centre, Visitor Information Centre, Mainstreet program, tourism marketing, economic development program, festivals, events and Horse Drawn Tram.

The service review of the Horse Drawn Tram was expanded by Council in September 2015 to look further into the operations of the service and to explore strategies to ensure its sustainable future.

The Horse Drawn Tram is imperatively important to Victor Harbor and more broadly South Australia, and Council’s ongoing considerations aim to ensure the iconic service remains a staple in Victor Harbor’s tourism offerings.

An option the Council wishes to explore is whether or not there is any private interest in taking over the operation of the tram and what the terms and conditions of such a model may look like.  To that end, Council will be calling for expressions of interest in operation of the tram.

“The expression of interest process will be an opportunity for council to test the market and see if this is a feasible option for the service,” said City of Victor Harbor Mayor Graham Philp.

“Council recognises the tram is an iconic and valued Victor Harbor asset, and we will ensure there are measures in place to protect the future of the service.  An option to ensure this may see council remaining the owner of the infrastructure and assets, but outsourcing the operations.”

A Horse Drawn Tram Working Party will also be formed to oversee the expression of interest process and review the recently revised Horse Tram Operations Manual.

Mayor Philp said that implementing changes to council’s economic development and tourism services is a key step in ensuring council’s sustainability into the future while still maintaining its strong economic focus.

“The City of Victor Harbor is unique in the fact that it owns and operates the Horse Drawn Tram and South Australia Whale Centre as well as delivering services relating to visitor information, mainstreet activation, tourism marketing, economic development and festivals and events,” said Mayor Philp.

“While council understands that these services provide important economic and social benefits to our community, we need to ensure these services are efficient, meet the needs of our community and align with council’s strategic vision for Victor Harbor.”

Other key decisions made by Council as a result of the economic development and tourism service review include:

  • A three year financial commitment to resourcing a Mainstreet Coordinator and investigating the concept of introducing a user pays or separate rate funding model for mainstreet services.

  • Reducing the opening hours of the Visitor Information Centre to 10am to 5pm (7 days) whilst affirming a commitment to the centre’s highly successful booking, retail and information services.

  • Continuing the current service level at the South Australian Whale Centre until the end of the financial year during which time council will explore opportunities available for collaboration with other marine based tourism or education operators, as well as exploring the potential to combine Whale Centre and Visitor Information services (at the current site of the Visitor Information Centre).

  • Developing, recording and reporting measures of success for all Economic Development and Tourism Services to ensure that council is transparent in its delivery of high quality economic development and tourism services.

  • A commitment within Council’s Long Term Financial Plan to investment in infrastructure that supports economic development.

“These decisions establish the foundations for a continuing Council profile in economic development and tourism with a greater emphasis on efficiency and performance disclosure,” said Mayor Philp.

The City of Victor Harbor will be hosting a drop-in session at the South Australian Whale Centre on Saturday, 12 March 2016 between 11am and 1pm. The drop-in session is a chance for the community to ask questions about the potential future directions in economic development and tourism services. Entry to the South Australian Whale Centre will be free during the drop-in session.

“I really encourage members of the community who want to find out more about what these changes mean for our council area to drop in to the South Australian Whale Centre on 12 March,” said Mayor Philp.

A full copy of the Economic Development and Tourism Services Review is available below:
City of Victor Harbor Economic Development and Tourism Services Review(3536 kb)

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