15 September 2017

Welcoming tourists to Canberra - we need to lift our game!

| Suzanne Kiraly
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I recently took a trip to Coffs Harbour, followed by a trip to Melbourne and then to Sydney. It was a delightful experience and as a tourist, I not only enjoyed the best of service, and found the facilities everywhere more than adequate, but I left each place with a positive impression.

This is what I wish for Canberra. But it’s not quite what it could and should be.

Fast-forward to my trip home. When I arrived back to Canberra recently, on a Murrays bus to the Jolimont Centre, (the bus ride was good), I was absolutely horrified (and ashamed) at the impression we are providing for our incoming tourists when they land at the Jolimont Centre.

You see, in Melbourne, everyone was so friendly and there were people who had been hired specifically to work the main city transport arteries in their CBD, especially to welcome and provide advice to visiting tourists. They had been hired specifically to make our stay in Melbourne an enjoyable one.

On the trip to Coffs Harbour, we were travelling on CountryLink and the services we received all the way were second to none. People went out of their way to make that journey a pleasant one too.

In Sydney, the airport was terrific in terms of the ease at which we could get around, the cleanliness of the facilities and the ease of which we could transfer to a bus service home.

But that’s where the pleasant tourist experience ended for me.

My arrival back home to the Jolimont Centre was such a bleak experience… it was depressing. It was dark, cold and the café was not open to even get a coffee. No-one was around to provide any assistance or service either. It was a dark, deserted place… the furthest it could be from welcoming our tourists. (Yes, this happens after hours and early in the morning as well.)

But what really took the cake, was the disgusting, and I mean really disgusting, state of the toilets. It was something that you might expect to find in a third-world country, but not in the nation’s capital!

Speaking of public toilets, the very next day I ventured to a local shopping centre in Curtin, where the modern, high-tech public toilets were also in such a disgusting state, they were not usable. I secretly hoped there were no tourists exposed to such filth. And I know that hi-tech toilets are a good innovation, but not if they are not maintained.

I do agree with most that the Canberra Airport is certainly doing their bit to make our visitors feel welcome, and I am so proud of the artworks and the new design of the airport itself, and a lot of the artwork throughout the city is delightful.

We have a beautiful city and we should always put our best foot forward.

So, what of the Jolimont Centre? Can we do better? I think we can. I am not sure who is responsible for public toilets and for the Jolimont Centre itself, but whoever it is, please, please, make our tourists’ welcoming experience better than it is currently, for all our sakes!

And it’s not just me. If you go to Trip Advisor, the average rating for the atmosphere at this venue is one star!

Surely we can do better. Can’t we?

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Yes, the Pitt St terminus is a bit bizarre. The Brisbane Transit Centre is the best I come across, all the facilities and connects with taxis, trains, local and country busses,

I think the Jolimont centre is not too bad, maybe it is time I have used it, 7am to 9pm.

Been to a lot of bus terminals that offer very little, but in reality, they are bus stops just like the thousands of bus stops where you catch your Action busses.

CBR are looking for stories about Canberra. They receive a lot of funding from taxpayers but it appears they deliver little for tourism. Send them your story. I doubt if any of the people there have ever used a public toilet in Canberra.


Well, I agree about the state of the Jolimont Centre, but did you arrive in Coffs Harbour, Sydney or Melbourne on the bus? Don’t know about the other places, but the Sydney bus terminal (a strip of Pitt St) is no more welcoming.

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