Visit Sunshine Coast celebrates National Volunteer Week

As part of National Volunteer Week (8-14 May), Visit Sunshine Coast celebrated with a thank you breakfast at Alexandra Park Conference Centre earlier today.

Over 150 volunteers from eight Visitor Information Centres attended and were recognised for their service to the tourism sector and the community.

Special guest, Sunshine Coast Council Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year, Jak Hardy conveyed how important the contribution of volunteers has been to the formation of our region and the importance of sharing those stories with his generation.

Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) CEO, Simon Latchford said it was a great opportunity to take the time to stop and extend a big ‘thank you’ to the volunteers who actively work to promote the destination and area’s attractions and service every type of query from visitors.

“Volunteers make an enormous contribution to our local economy. They have the pride and passion to showcase our must do’s along with secret spots to our guests. Sunshine Coast tourism, which contributes $2.4 billion to the economy and employs 26,500 people, would not be the leading industry it is without their commitment,” said Mr Latchford.

“At VSC, we refer to our volunteers as ambassadors as they truly are the best representatives for the region as they perform a range of valuable roles that help ensure visitors have a memorable, engaging and rewarding experience in the region.

“The way we book travel may have changed but people still seek face-to-face contact and local knowledge when they visit. It may be as simple as advising what time the bus leaves or where the nearest toilet is located but it is also assisting with bookings, recommendations and most importantly, it is the service and friendliness that adds to their overall impression and holiday experience.”
The breakfast event was supported by Sunshine Coast Council with each volunteer presented with a 50th Anniversary commemorative pin and an opportunity to record their memories in a mobile booth.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson paid tribute to the Visitor Information Centre vollies and their role in promoting the region.

“Tourism is such an important economic driver for this region and our ‘VIC vollies’ play a crucial front-line duty in helping to make this sector so successful,” Mayor Jamieson said. 
“A warm, friendly and welcoming experience is an important motivator for helping attract return visits and our vollies are at the forefront of providing this experience to our guests.

“Their enthusiasm, passion and dedication to promoting our wonderful region is truly impressive and something for which we are truly grateful.”

Rodger Thomson has been sharing his love and knowledge of the Sunshine Coast with visitors from all over the world for the past 23 years.

As a Sunshine Coast Visitor Information Centre volunteer, he heads to his Caloundra Road base every Wednesday to do his four-hour rostered shift. He can’t begin to count how many hours he’s put in over those 23 years but he estimates ‘thousands’.

Rodger has an extensive background in tourism (from working for Ansett and the Orient Line, to a shipping agent for P&O Cruises and a travel agency in Melbourne), and he has been a world traveller (driving a Morris Major all around the UK for starters) and commenced volunteering after semi-retiring as a Caloundra coffee shop owner who was fond of the area.

But now at age 84, he keeps turning up for his rostered shifts for one reason.
“The people,” Rodger said.

“People come into the Visitor Centre from all over the world as well as all over Australia. We get them from all countries in Europe and the UK and a lot of New Zealanders.
“And it’s a sort of a social outlet with the other volunteers. It keeps the old mind going a bit,” he said.

During 2017, VSC will service more visitors than ever before through the eight Visitor Information Centres and additionally will have dedicated pop ups with a mobile van to greet all cruise ship passengers and attend major events throughout the region.