City of Newcastle has opened its new Visitor Information Centre (VIC), offering hands-on interactive experiences, tourist information and unique souvenirs for those welcoming friends and family to the city.
Housed in the repurposed Civic Railway Station, the VIC is located in the heart of Newcastle’s emerging tourist hub, nearby the under-construction five-star Kingsley Hotel and a stone’s throw from the Civic Theatre, Civic Park, City Hall and Museum.
Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes inside the new Visitor Information Centre.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the VIC was opening just in time to welcome visitors back to the city following the lifting of many of the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“The June long weekend saw many travellers take advantage of the relaxed restrictions in what was the first opportunity to hit the open road in months,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The establishment of the Visitor Information Centre is another very visible step in the maturity of our city as a tourist destination. Pre-COVID-19 figures showed about five million tourists visit Newcastle each year, which is a rise of about 60% over the past five years. The value of the Newcastle tourism economy increased 57.6% to $1.127 billion in the 12 months to March 2019 alone.
“And with two five-star hotels now under construction and Newcastle Airport offering seasonal flights to New Zealand, the number of visitors is set to surge even further. More than 1.2 million passengers passed through the airport in the 2018-19 financial year.”
City of Newcastle’s new Visitor Information Centre will play a vital role in boosting the local tourism industry, which has been decimated by COVID-19, as appetite for travel grows stronger, particularly with the July school holidays just around the corner.
“We have already received an influx of enquiries from interested travellers whom we can’t wait to welcome to our beautiful city.”
Following the site’s exterior renovation by Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, City of Newcastle undertook a full fit-out of the new VIC, including a hand-painted mural, incorporating a Welcome to Country in both Awabakal and Worimi languages, and a map of Newcastle printed on the vinyl floor.
As with all City of Newcastle services and facilities reopening, public health is paramount, and there is a COVID Safe Plan in place for the VIC’s operation that, in conjunction with physical distancing and hand hygiene practices, will ensure everyone can enjoy this new community space.
The Visitor Information Centre is conveniently located at the Civic light rail stop at 430 Hunter Street and will initially operate from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays. Sunday operation will commence as demand increases and restrictions further ease. There are more than 300 parking spaces within a five-minute walk.