The Northern Rivers has officially re-opened for visitors with up to twenty flights per day landing in the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.
The resumption of the region’s tourism industry has prompted the Ballina Shire Council, which owns the airport, to invite local residents to become volunteer ambassadors for the sector.
Ambassadors are stationed either in the airport or in the council’s visitor information centre on River Street, Ballina Shire Council Visitor Services Team Leader Alicia Wallace said on Tuesday.
Farms, parks and holiday lets
As part of their training, volunteers went on ‘familiarisations’ to tourist attractions such as Summerland Farm, the Macadamia Castle and Alstonville’s Victoria Park, Ms Wallace said.
Ambassadors also helped visitors find suitable accommodation, with owners of state government registered holiday lets able to share details with the council as of November, when new short-term rental accommodation law became effective everwhere except the Byron Shire.
So far the council had received a list of around a dozen short-term holiday properties, Ms Wallace said.
Call for First Nations reps on council tourism team
The volunteer program already had 28 participants, some of whom had been meeting and greeting visitors since 2013.
‘They’re typically retired and wanting to connect make new connections and join new social groups,’ Ms Wallace said, ‘it’s about a half-half mixed blend of long-term residents and people who have lived here a few years’.
Ms Wallace said most of the volunteers were women, with men representing around a third of the group.
The council was especially keen to include First Nations representatives, she said.
Applying to be a tourism ambassador
Volunteer shifts could be anywhere between four and twelve hours long, usually between the hours of 8.30am and 5pm.
Weekend availability was a must, and volunteers needed to enjoy talking with people.
Anyone with questions could phone 1800 777 66 and applications were being accepted until 26 November.
Ms Wallace said anyone wanting more information about the council’s management of human resources could contact the council directly.