Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation will house the new Whitsunday Information Centre, in a bid to lure the drive market into the region.
Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation will house the new Whitsunday Information Centre, in a bid to lure the drive market into the region. Contributed

Councillors' heated debate about decision on new info centre

PROSERPINE will soon be known for its coffee following an announcement that the Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation is set to house the new Whitsunday Information Centre.

Proserpine has been without a centre since 2016 after the closure of the Main Street facility because of low visitor numbers and the cost operating the facility exceeded funding and revenue.

A motion was moved at Wednesday's ordinary council meeting, for Tourism Whitsundays to receive $120,000 in addition to the $600,000 allocated for destination marketing activities.

Subject to appropriate planning and building approvals, up to $60,000 also will be provided for the fit out of a portable building to accommodate the new centre, a total cost of $180,000.

Deputy Mayor John Collins expressed his reservation over the outlay of cash.

He queried why the old facility couldn't be utilised and said Council may as well give TW 'an open cheque book'.

Following at times some heated discussion, Councillor Dave Clark said he would withdraw his vote if Cr Collins didn't want the centre.

Despite the initial doubt, the motion was carried 6-0.

Council's decision was welcomed by Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler.

"Research has shown that successful visitor information centres are more successful when connected to an attraction," she said.

"It needed the ability to accommodate for caravan turning circle as well as easy access and visibility from the highway. This location certainly meets all the criteria."

Tourism Whitsundays confirmed it will also financially support the Proserpine Chamber of Commerce in their redevelopment of a Proserpine brochure which will be distributed throughout the centre.

The new Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre will work closely with the existing Bowen and Mackay Visitor Information Centres to encourage visitor dispersal and increased length of stay through all areas.

The centres plan to develop a unique produce trail which will encourage visitors to explore more of what these areas have to offer.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said tourism was one of three key pillars for the Whitsunday region, so it was important Council leveraged every opportunity to grow the industry.

Cr Willcox said luring the fast-growing drive market to spend more time in the Whitsundays is vital in boosting the region's economy.

"By placing it in a high visibility location and capitalising on a captive audience at Whitsunday Gold this will provide the Visitor Information Centre every opportunity to succeed," he said.