Halls Gap tourist operator angry over tourist centre location

A HALLS Gap tourist operator is upset about the lack of accessible tourist information services in the Grampians township.

His complaint follows Premier Denis Napthine's appeal for people to visit the Grampians and support businesses hit by this month's devastating bushfire.

Roy Williams said a temporary tourist information centre at Brambuk would not return to Halls Gap until at least the middle of the year.

He said the five-kilometre round trip to Brambuk was a difficult task for tourists without a car.

The existing tourist information centre in Halls Gap is closed for refurbishment, but the bushfire has delayed work.

Mr Williams, who has driven tourist buses in Halls Gap for two decades, said he was frustrated visitors were unable to get information that could lead them to spend money in the Grampians.

"My problem is that I take people out on buses and they can't access the information centre," he said.

"No-one can justify what's going on out there, particularly not in light of the devastation the fires are causing the tourist people. All the business people are angry about this."

But Grampians Tourism chief executive Will Flamsteed said he had not received any complaints from businesses regarding the location of information services.

"I haven't had any feedback that businesses have been hurt by that," he said.

Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin said council had decided to move the centre to Brambuk.

He said it would remain there until work was completed on the Halls Gap centre.

"We've put some other temporary measures in Halls Gap, including a portable service desk," he said.

"Hopefully that will compensate while the building work is going on."

Mr Williams suggested there were more suitable temporary locations in Halls Gap for a service desk, such as Centenary Hall.

Cr Erwin said a number of locations to house tourism services had been discussed, but the decision to go to Brambuk had been made and the information centre would remain there during refurbishments.

"A few places were floated around and we decided to go to Brambuk and have the temporary arrangements there," he said.

Cr Erwin said he hoped tourism would begin to pick up after the bushfire.

He said a number of coming events would indicate if people were prepared to visit the area.

"We were out the other day and it was reasonably quiet," he said.

"The Australia Day weekend generally has quite a few visitors and then the jazz festival they will be good gauges."

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