Visitors centre walkout in wake of credit card drama at Scottsdale

CLOSING TIME: The centre has been closed since November 6. Picture: Peter Sanders
CLOSING TIME: The centre has been closed since November 6. Picture: Peter Sanders

The Scottsdale Visitor Information Centre has been closed indefinitely after manager Kathy Dodds walked out on the centre last week. 

A sign hangs in the window of the empty building, signalling to passersby that: “The centre is closed until further notice.”

According to Dorset mayor Greg Howard, Ms Dodds locked the doors of the Alfred Street centre after disputes with the council’s management. 

The walkout also comes after the council cancelled the visitors centre’s credit card.

Cr Howard said the card was cancelled because the service runs at a “substantial loss” of “at least” four or five times the amount of the equivalent Bridport site.

Ms Dodds and general manager Tim Watson were contacted to discuss the dispute, however both were unavailable for comment.

“It’s only appropriate [the card was cancelled], because the centre made a substantial loss,” Cr Howard said.

“Considering they don’t pay staff, power or water, or anything like that, it’s hard to figure out how it would make such a loss.

“We know it’s always going to cost money and never going to make a profit – the other centre at Bridport makes a small loss as well – but it costs only a fraction of the cost of the Scottsdale centre.”

Chief executive of the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania Luke Martin questioned the ongoing viability of visitors centres entirely.

Mr Martin said councils all over the state should “have a look” at whether visitors centres were still necessary.

“I’m sympathetic to councils across the state, because these centres cost a lot of money and they’re hard to manage,” he said.

“I think the local community and the [Dorset] council need to look at the best way to engage visitors in the town.

“The notion of a visitors centre 20 to 30 years ago was all the rage, but in this day and age people have their phones for wayfinding.

“The best models seem to be where [the council] partners the visitor centre with another business.”

Cr Howard said the council will now look to appoint a new manager to the position or transfer the visitors centre to a non-commercial business.  

“The [business] we would probably deal with is not a commercial business – it’s the war museum at the RSL.

“It would be politically unwise to give it to a commercial business, because you’d be giving them favourable treatment over the other businesses in the town.”