A new centre in the heart of Newcastle is offering tourists hands-on interactive experiences, tourist information and unique souvenirs.
Housed in the repurposed Civic Railway Station, the new Visitor Information Centre (VIC), is located in the city’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.
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,” she 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.”
The centre will play a vital role in boosting the local tourism industry as appetite for travel grows stronger, particularly with the July school holidays just around the corner.
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 the council services and facilities there is a COVID Safe Plan in place for the VIC’s operation.
The centre, located at the Civic light rail stop at 430 Hunter Street, will initially operate from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays.