Bass Coast,
03
June
2014
|
07:51
Australia/Melbourne

Volunteers Add Value To Visitor Experience

Bass+Coast+Shire+Council+volunteer%2C+Margaret+Girling+%28second+from+left%29+has+been+volunteering+at+the+Newhaven+Visitor+Information+Centre+for+15+years%2C+working+in+a+team+with+%28from+left+to+right%29+Council%26rsquo%3Bs+Visitor+Services+Team+Leader%2C+Jenni+McMillan%2C+and+Visitor+Services+Officers%2C+Atholle+Day+and+Karen+Dickie.

There is nothing like arriving at a new destination and meeting a friendly local who can help you with everything you need to know to make the most of your stay in Bass Coast.

These friendly locals can be found at Bass Coast Shire Council’s Visitor Information Centres, and are often dedicated volunteers.

One of Council’s longest serving volunteers, Margaret Girling from San Remo, has been working at the Newhaven Visitor Information Centre since 1999.

Whilst looking for something to do in her retirement, Ms Girling saw an ad from Council looking for volunteers and decided she would give it a try.

“I’ve learnt a lot about the Island, and learnt a lot of computer skills too,” Ms Girling said.

“When I eventually got my own computer, I did a few short courses, but I learnt all of the basics volunteering here.”

Ms Girling said her favourite thing about volunteering, however, is the company.

“I get to meet lots of different people and the staff are very easy to get on with,” Ms Girling said.

“It’s a friendly environment and we all work together as a team.”

Ms Girling volunteers one morning a week, and has seen the Centre grow from a simple building to the modern facility it now is.

“Things have changed an awful lot since I started, especially method wise,” Ms Girling said.

“The building has grown and we do everything by computer now. We’re always pretty busy, especially over the holiday periods, but even when we were in a small building we were helping around 150,000 visitors a year.”

The Phillip Island and Bass Coast Visitor Information Centre Network began in 1977 with the establishment of a Visitor Information Centre on Phillip Island and has grown since then into a highly efficient network managed by Council’s Tourism and Visitor Services Unit.

Today, there are four accredited Visitor Information Centres located across the Shire in Inverloch, Wonthaggi, Newhaven and Cowes.

Council’s Acting Community and Economic Development Director, Antoinette Mitchell, said the Network operates an integrated service to provide over 250,000 visitors annually with a friendly welcome, local knowledge, and extensive information.

“The Network is contributing $2.8 million directly into the local tourism economy through accommodation, attraction tickets and retail sales, but we simply couldn’t achieve this without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The Network engages 37 local volunteers supported by staff to accommodate the increased demand for visitor services.

“Our network approach allows us to provide a high level of service to visitors to the region, local tourism operators and our local community.

“As the first port of call for many visitors to Phillip Island and Bass Coast, the ability of the Visitor Information Centres to showcase what the region has to offer is crucial to enhancing our visitor’s experience.”

If you’re passionate and know all there is to see and do around Phillip Island and Bass Coast, why not considering volunteering?

 “Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Phillip Island and Bass Coast Visitor Information Centre Network,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The Visitor Information Centres provide a welcoming and supportive environment for volunteers to work, and there is always room for more to join the team.

“Build new skills, meet new people and be part of our friendly and professional team.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Council’s Tourism and Visitor Services Unit by calling 1300 BCOAST (226 278).