Merimbula’s Wandarrah Lodge Backpacker Hostel in SE NSW has ‘all sorts’ staying – from a surgeon with the cheapest hire car to a man in his Rolls Royce trying to convince his wife to take up ‘hostelling’. The issue that concerns many hostel operators is that there could be a lot more backpackers leading to far greater regional economic advantage if there was transport at a reasonable/cheap rate.
Work for backpackers is usually a great incentive to travel, especially if the work and desirable destinations go together. Greyound Australia, taking up the government’s extension of Working Holiday Visas by 12 months if visitors have done 3 months farm work in their first year in Australia, is promoting a ‘Harvest Map’ and producing info about what areas have work and at what times. This will be distributed via Backpacker Agencies both in Australia and overseas, via Language Schools for foreign students and online at www.greyhound.com.au.
People are frustrated because large areas, such as Gippsland, which is a large vegetable producing region providing good work and tourism prospects for backpackers, are ‘missing out’ on economic opportunities like Greyhound’s Harvest Pass promotion because, generally, interstate coaches are only permitted to set down or pick up travellers if they cross a border.
WHY THIS REGULATION?
A substantial Government investment provides multiple train and bus trips per day on major corridors as well as buses linking smaller regional centres. Some interstate operators duplicate Government services without providing the same regularity of trips.
1)There are many transport options – V-line, hostel/hotel courtesy buses; community buses – we need a comprehensive planning framework with input from ALL transport providers to plug gaps and give the best range of services.
2)Competition is part of the market economy – where you have a Macca’s you also find KFC and Hungry Jacks. The important thing for regional economies is ‘bums on seats’!
CURRENT STATE OF PLAY
1)There is a new Regional Services Branch within the Department of Infrastructure conducting service reviews throughout Victoria.
2)Some interstate restrictions have been lifted where it is seen to improve availability of services eg Melbourne to Adelaide coaches can pick up and set down for local travel on overnight services.
3)The review will consider all public transport options – including interstate and community bus services – with the goal of reducing duplication through rescheduling so there is an even spread of services.
4)Recommendations will be completed in the first half of 2006.
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT: Jane Wharton, Public Affairs Branch, Department of Infrastructure T: 03 9655 6435 E: Jane.Wharton@doi.vic.gov.au.