Much like all of us, the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre (CRVC) was affected severely by this year’s pandemic. After shutting down for a couple of months, they were lucky to be able to reopen on Reconciliation Day (June 1).
Manager of the CRVC, Michael Salmon says the toughest challenge for his staff was the uncertainty of everything.
“It had been an overnight drop off, and all of a sudden we were thrust into the unknown,” said Michael. “Not knowing the extent of how the tourism sector would be changed was the biggest worry. We usually get school groups coming through as well as the public, and that all obviously stopped overnight.”
Michael says that the June long weekend showed his staff their first glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
“We had fantastic numbers over that four-day period and were kept really busy with locals starting to get out and also a lot of visitors from Sydney who were keen to travel with a bit of easing of restrictions.”
What the Visitors Centre had to do this year is adapt and diversify. They started to look at more creative ways to offer something back to the community by working with local businesses like Underground Spirits to service Canberra’s evolving needs.
“We set up the drive-through sanitising station with Underground Spirits which was a huge success, and we also worked with ACT Health and local hotels to offer emergency accommodation to Australians returning home from overseas on repatriation flights.
We installed a webcam on the roof of The Canberra and Region Visitors Centre at Regatta Point to be launched shortly and worked hard to roll out Teleportivity,” said Michael.
Being installed this week at the Canberra Airport, Teleportivity is like a virtual concierge, allowing staff at the CRVC to connect directly with visitors when they arrive. As people come off the plane, they can walk up to a screen where someone will be able to chat to them in real time and answer any questions that they might have about visiting Canberra.
For now, it will just be set up at the Airport, but there are plans to introduce the service at the Jolimont Centre for visitors arriving by bus, and at the Canberra Railway Station in Kingston.
Michael says that despite the many challenges, there have been a lot of positives to come out of this year.
“I’ve seen a lot more collaboration this year, and a renewed willingness to work together to succeed and create these good outcomes.
I’ve seen hotels focus on offering great staycation experiences, and now the Airport has also opened up new direct flights to Port Macquarie, Hobart and Cairns.”
“It’s important for everyone to stay positive, work together to help each other, and remember that you can pick up the phone and reach out if you’re feeling the need,” said Michael.
“We have an amazing bunch here in the tourism sector and we’re always happy to look out for each other and work together where we can so that everyone can get through this year.”