Ballina Visitor Information Centre volunteers Jan Aitken (left) and Leonie Howard inspire visitors to explore a wonderful region.
Ballina Visitor Information Centre volunteers Jan Aitken (left) and Leonie Howard inspire visitors to explore a wonderful region.

Volunteers needed for vital role in a tourist hotspot

ANY traveller or tourist knows the value of a good information centre with knowledgeable and friendly volunteers.

The Ballina Visitor Information Centre is a busy place in a popular tourist spot, and there's an urgent need to recruit more volunteers.

For more than four years, Jan Aiken has played a voluntary role in "meet and greet" at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.

"There's a tourist booth there and I help at the information centre too," she said.

"I probably do a couple of hours a fortnight. They like you to do once a week if you can."

Jan says the information centre is busy from the time the doors are opened.

She mainly gives out maps and information, and helps with directions.

"I like meeting the people, learning things, and everyone's got a story to tell," she said.

"I always laugh when they get off the plane - they say, 'we'll just walk to Byron Bay (35kms away)'.

"If they've got kids they like to know where to take the kids - the Macadamia Castle, skateboard parks, all sorts of things.

"Ballina's got lovely cafes, beaches and walking paths. We've got a terrific community atmosphere.

"We've got the rivers and the markets - there's lots of things going on."

Jan, a widow, also owns a macadamia farm and calls herself "a jack of all trades, master of none".

She says the information centre provides ongoing training to volunteers.

"You have to have a certain commitment as a volunteer," she said.

Ballina Shire Council's team leader visitor services Alicia Wallace said volunteers had an exciting opportunity to meet and greet visitors to the Ballina Coast and Hinterland while promoting local attractions, tours, activities, events, seasonal produce and all the excellent destinations the region had to offer.

"If you are passionate about this beautiful region we call home, then why not inspire our visitors to stay a little longer and explore a little further by becoming a volunteer visitor experience ambassador?," Alicia said.

Anyone with good knowledge of the local area who's looking to be involved in the local community and to enhance their knowledge or learn new skills, download an application package at www.discoverballina.com.au/visit/corporate/volunteering.

The first intake will be for volunteers who are able to help during busy service periods on weekends.

The Ballina Visitor Information Centre at 6 River St is open seven days a week, Mondays to Saturdays 9am-5pm and Sundays from 10am-2pm.


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