FLAGSTAFF Hill Maritime Village’s future hinges on major investment to bring in more visitors, according to city council candidate Adrian Jacobs.
He says the 35-year-old showpiece Warrnambool tourist attraction is losing about $500,000 a year and is being heavily subsidised by ratepayers.
Mr Jacobs, who has been on the village advisory board for eight years, called for construction of a $2 million student accommodation centre, as suggested in a draft masterplan. “An injection of funds is needed soon — a bold investment move so Flagstaff Hill can pay its way,” he said. “Let’s borrow, build and pay it off over time.
“In four to five years we’ll be ahead. It can’t keep making a $500,000 loss every year.
“On-site student accommodation would bring groups from across the state and could also be used at weekends for conference groups.
“It would complement our lighthouse keeper’s cottage accommodation, which has been a real winner. Also, with the recent maritime museum status, investment will be needed for more display facilities which will attract visitors.
“The sound and light show is getting tired and an investment decision will also be needed for that.”
Flagstaff Hill is Warrnambool’s only attraction advertised regularly internationally. Recent figures indicated it attracts about 45,000 day-time and 28,000 night-time visitors a year and has been linked to important economic spin-off for the city. Mr Jacobs said the art gallery and AquaZone were also heavily subsidised by ratepayers with each losing at least $300,000 a year.
Mr Jacobs, who served four years on the council before losing the 2008 elections, also criticised candidates in the current elections for promising to cap rate rises to the CPI. “With the upcoming $4.5m superannuation shortfall to be paid in July, staff wage rises of four per cent and infrastructure costs for city growth the CPI promise is just unrealistic.”