Visitors arrive on journey into the unknown

IMAGINE arriving at your holiday destination and realise there were no EFTPOS facilities to buy fuel, food or a room for the night.

Or booking a weekend away via the internet only to turn up and discover the host didn’t know you were coming.

That’s what’s been happening in Warrnambool and the south-west region for the past few days since the Telstra exchange was crippled by fire on Thursday morning.

“Some guests left early because they could not pay by card and had difficulty getting cash,” Warrnambool’s tourism services manager Peter Abbott told The Standard yesterday.

“People have been showing up at accommodation venues with bookings, but the venues were not aware of  the booking because the internet connection went down.

“Shops weren’t getting visitors coming in to spend because they were worried about having enough cash for petrol and food.

“This is a very important time for summer bookings and some operators are still without phones, EFTPOS or internet — the three essential tools of trade. Some  operators couldn’t pay their staff because online banking was down.

“For some small businesses their future is on the line.”

Mr Abbott said there was growing annoyance -- the south-west outage did not seem to have gained the attention of state and federal leaders.

“If it happened in South Melbourne it would be big news and the Premier would be demanding answers,” he said.

Ironically, the outage came after workshops in Warrnambool, Hamilton and Colac to deal with disaster recovery had to be cancelled due to lack of interest.

Workshop facilitator Bill Winter of Middle Park said the sessions would have shown small business owners how to plan to recover quickly from disaster.

“I hope now that business owners will realise the importance of planning and the value of having a strategy to overcome a temporary setback as was experienced last week.”

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