Information is at the Centre

Fresh off the back of our city’s second-placed ranking in Wotif’s 2024 Aussie Town of the Year list, Broken Hill City Council Visitor Services Coordinator, Patrick Kreitner, says it reinforces the value of Visitor Information Centres, especially in a regional town such as ours.

“You can really see the importance of Visitor Information Centres, especially in an area out here that is very remote on one hand, but also has a lot of experiences,” he told the Truth.

“Everyone from eight to 80 does research online before they travel, but they’re still coming in here. We get 250,000 visitors to Broken Hill and 85,000 are coming through the information centre.

“That is a really high percentage if you compare it to other information centres, especially on the coast, which is easily explained because we’re a central point for such a large area. The people aren’t just asking about Broken Hill, they’re asking about the whole of Far West NSW and beyond as well.”

Mr Kreitner says there’s something special about talking with locals who know and understand the area on a deeper level.

“The thing that information centres offer, and it’s the reason why they’re still going to be here many years from now, is the storytelling and narrative that the internet doesn’t give. You go on the internet, you have a lot of information out there, but not very often do you have that commercial background.

“If you come into a good information centre with good staff, you can have those conversations where people are really weaving together a narrative. They’re not just telling you about the different bits and pieces, but they give you context of the area. That orientation is not just happening geographically, it’s happening culturally and psychologically. I think that’s a really big thing that you can’t easily get online, at least not at this point.”

Mr Kreitner says people’s shock at out-of-towners picking up brochures, visitor guides, and printed maps shouldn’t be surprising because, “it does fulfill a psychological need of grounding yourself or of making sense of the world, especially if you’re travelling”.

“You go into an area that is completely new to you, it just creates a bit of meaning. Having people that live there and know everything from the area to create that meaning or that narrative that you can then just hook into, it’s so much easier than just going to a place and saying, ‘what are the top three rated attractions on TripAdvisor? Alright, one, two, three’ and then you go. You might have seen something, but the understanding and the overall context, you might have no idea,” he says.

“There are people who don’t care about that, they want just the Instagrammable image, they want to go to the Sculptures and take a photo and then go. That’s fine, but I think for most people, they want a little bit more out of a holiday, the open space, getting back to nature, grounding themselves, finding that spiritual connection to the land, getting away from the big bulk of people and civilisation.

“That’s something we can offer so well out here too, so I think as a destination, we’re going really well, and we’ll continue to see growth in that area, I would say. It’s looking good.”


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