By Molly Taylor
Free public wifi across Beachport’s city centre is expected to become a tourism drawcard for those visiting the Limestone Coast these summer holidays.
The travelling hotspot has become the latest Wattle Range destination to have wifi technology installed, following Millicent earlier this year and Penola planned next month.
The project, costing approximately $31,000, was funded as part of council’s 2019-20 capital works program with expected ongoing maintenance costs totalling $1200 annually for the seaside town.
With a main modem based at the township’s visitor information centre, signal is expected to reach across Railway Terrace and Beach Road through to the location’s main gathering areas including the jetty and waterfront.
Coastal Treasures business owner and nearby seaside resident Robin Cassidy said the ability for tourists and residents to have the internet at their fingertips would be beneficial for the surrounding economy.
“Free wifi is not available much in the country when comparing to metropolitan areas,” Ms Cassidy said.
“I understand many people have enough data on their phones, but if the option was there I would say people would use it whenever possible.
“It should be considered a drawcard for those visiting the town.”
Ms Cassidy said she hoped the wifi would increase visiting numbers this upcoming holiday season.
“Recently, we have had a lot of South East locals popping through for a visit because they feel quite safe to be out and about,” she said.
“We have also had people who live around the area visiting the store who have said they had never been here before, or were happy travelling on day trips or around the state.
“We hope we see more people during the warmer weather as well.”
Before Covid-19, Ms Cassidy said she had friends travel overseas who had been required to download apps before booking into accommodation.
“I think having wifi available offers flexibility for businesses to use it in futuristic ways,” she said.
“With the way the world is going, if you need to download an app, I would say people would choose to use the wifi if possible rather than using data.
“I have wifi in the shop so that is fine with me, but when I am out and about, especially in the cities, I definitely try and use free wifi.
“There are so many things which we search on Google now and I think it great people have the ability to log into free wifi to do that.”
Council economic development manager Roger Babolka said the logic behind the installation was to offer the community more services.
“We want people to engage with the local community and stay longer,” Mr Babolka said.
“It is all about providing a better environment for both locals and tourists.”
Mr Babolka said he hoped visitors could use the wifi to search for Beachport attractions, plan their stay and hopefully develop an enjoyable experience while in the district.
“It has proven to work quite well in other areas across Australia,” he said.
“We are in a very high profile tourism location across the coastal locations and the Coonawarra region so it is logical to have the facility available.
“It forms part of a broader review across our visitor information centres later last year to make sure we are providing an up-to-date service to tourists.”
Mr Babolka said it was not just younger people who were tech savvy, with Grey Nomads as bigger users as the younger generation.
“They are on the road and wifi allows them to make contact with their family while travelling around and it is all good news.”
A council marketing scheme to promote the technology, which is expected to include business windows stickers, will be implemented across the district soon.
Green Triangle Electronics has installed technology across all three sites.