PROMOTING FREMANTLE BETTER
A disturbing report in the West Australian today about the serious retail problems in the Perth CBD shows that Fremantle’s retail demise is not unique and that it is happening everywhere in WA, Australia and the world.
Perth retailers complain about too high parking fees and anti-social behaviour, as Fremantle retailers do, but Fremantle parking fees are substantially lower than those in Perth.
The unfortunate fact is that the the global financial crisis, on-line shopping and the mining bust have all contributed to the serious decline in retail shopping all over Perth.
I hear from Fremantle retailers that they nowadays often have better sales during weekdays and that retail no longer is weekend trading only and that is a good thing the City of Fremantle needs to investigate and tap into.
From my personal observations Fremantle is the suburban ‘tourist’ destination on weekends for people who like the atmosphere, the cafes, restaurants, fishing boat harbour and pubs, but not many people come into Freo to shop on weekends.
That brings me to another article in the West about tourism and I wonder why the City of Fremantle does not do more in that regard. We still lack international signs around the city and multi-lingual menus in restaurant and that is inexcusable when one knows how easy it is to get translations in this digital internet age.
Imagine restaurants that hand out tablets to guest where all they need to do is touch the logo of the national flag of their country and the menu pops up in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Russian, etc. Wouldn’t that be a great innovative service for visitors to Freo we could promote.
Heritage is also not well promoted in Fremantle, but very much loved by tourists who often comment on the beauty of the West End. We promote on the new wayfinding signs the Bathers Beach Art Precinct but not the heritage aspect of it.
It does not help either that a long-serving senior member of the City’s marketing team told the president of the Roundhouse guides a few weeks ago they did not know the cannon was fired every day at 1 pm. One cannot promote what one does not know about!
For years we have been asking for more information about festivals and events to hand out to visitors to the Roundhouse. This year again we had no Fremantle Festival programs to give to tourists. Why?!
The other aspect lacking is an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors. The Walyalup centre failed dismally at offering indigenous culture, music and dance events for tourists and all we now have to offer is two Aboriginal art galleries in the CBD and Aboriginal tours by Greg Nannup.
Tourism is a growth-industry the CoF does not take serious enough. I understand that Fremantle wants to be more than a sleepy heritage tourist town, and we are well under way with new development and modernising the city, but it is wrong to underestimate the importance of tourism and the growth potential of it.