LOCAL business operators says they’re outraged by Glenelg Shire mayor Karen Stephens’ claims that they need to work harder to bring in tourism dollars.
In last Friday’s Portland Observer, Cr Stephens said Portland businesses need to increase their opening hours to be as successful as Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Casterton businesses.
Shaun Smith of Showcase Jewellers onPercy St said Cr Stephens needed to be more positive when talking about her own shire in the media.
“The first thing you don’t do is put down your town as mayor, if she’s unhappy she should work on it privately,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said comparisons made between other tourism towns were unfair and he accused Cr Stephens of putting her hometown of Casterton on a pedestal while chastising the Portland business community.
“If council lifted its work and attracted more people, it would warrant paying double time and opening our doors on a Sunday,” he said.
Mr Smith said that in December 2011 he kept his business open every day of the month leading up to Christmas but it wasn’t viable and he has since scaled back his summer opening hours because there were not enough customers for seven-days-a-week trading.
Mr Smith agrees that some business could do more to invite business during the tourism season, especially cafés and restaurants.
“Bottom streetshops where the real tourists are should be open, but top street shops find it difficult to get the tourists coming in.”
Cr Stephens told the Portland Observer all feedback she received following the story has been positive and she wanted to continue to engage with local businesses to develop the Portland CBD.
Read more in Wednesday’s Portland Observer.