MPRT Visitor Signing Report

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VISITOR SIGNING IN MORNINGTON PENINSULA TOURISM REGION

In 2016, the Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism Board commissioned a report on visitor signing throughout the Mornington Peninsula tourism region. The associated analysis and report was conducted by respected signage consultants Traffinity  and presents a strategic analysis of directional signage within the municipalities of the Mornington Peninsula Shire and the City of Frankston as part of the Mornington Peninsula Tourism Region.

The report examines the current on-road signage and signage policies within the Peninsula Region and recommends improvements to the policies, strategies and practices of direction signing.

It considers all types of direction signs, including green, brown and blue signs, and covers signs under the responsibility of VicRoads and the two municipalities, as well as those funded by individual tourism operators.

While some individual signs are mentioned for removal, replacement or installation, this study has not covered all of the signs in the Peninsula Region.

Background

The Mornington Peninsula tourism region is one of the major tourism areas in Victoria. One of the key elements to enhance the visitability of the region is the ease with which visitors can find their way.

The report builds on the work done in the Mornington Peninsula Macro-Signing Review by Bramark Consulting in 2005. Since that time, Peninsula Link has opened and the tourism potential of the region has further increased.

The work in this report has been informed by the MPRT Destination Management Plan, the Visitor Services Review and the Mornington Peninsula Visitor Journey Research Report (2015) by Urban Enterprise Pty Ltd. Some of the key findings in this latter report which are relevant to visitor signing are:

The Mornington Peninsula is accessed mostly by EastLink and Peninsula Link which bypasses Frankston, with secondary access points including the Nepean Highway and the Queenscliff-Sorrento ferry.

The destinations which attract the highest proportion of visitors on the Mornington Peninsula are concentrated to the Port Phillip localities of Sorrento, Rye, Portsea, Rosebud, Mornington and Mount Martha.

Overnight visitors to the western destinations…show high levels of dispersal across the Mornington Peninsula, particularly to other Southern Peninsula destinations, such as Sorrento and Portsea, and Peninsula Hinterland destinations such as Red Hill.

Executive Summary

The Mornington Peninsula tourism region is one of the major tourism areas in Victoria. One of the key elements to enhance the visitability of the region is the ease with which visitors can find their way.

This report identifies many problems with visitor signing in the Mornington Peninsula Tourism region. Due to the geography, convoluted road network and concentration of tourist destinations, visitors face many wayfinding challenges if they are relying on signs.

The main problems are:

·         Lack of signs linking the key townships, evident particularly in the hinterland region

·         Poor maintenance: signs with graffiti, physical damage, poor retroreflectivity and obscured by vegetation

·         Street name signs too small in rural areas

·         Too many fingerboard signs which are difficult for drivers to read

·         Too many complex signs which contain too much information for drivers to read

·         Over-signing: signing tourist destinations from too far away

·         Obsolete and redundant signs

·         Ambiguous directional information: not clearly indicating where to turn

·         Poor signface design, not following signing standards and conventions

·         Errors and omissions on tourist maps

In addition, there are institutional issues which do not help to provide a good wayfinding system. The main issues are:

·         Simplistic policy documents that do not call up the comprehensive State guidelines and National standards

·         Lack of a sign register or inventory system

·         Lack of staff resources and funding to address the key issues

·         Lack of a dedicated signing officer in VicRoads Metro South East Region

·         Sign permits being given to establishments that are not eligible for signing, creating precedents and potential claims of unfair treatment

A strategic and holistic response is needed to address these problems. Main action areas are:

#1. Improve direction signs to towns and localities, linking key tourism areas

#2. Remove obsolete and redundant tourist and services signs

#3. De-clutter and rationalise tourist signs, including the removal of the 20 year-old ‘Tour Peninsula’ signs

#4. Implement a bulk rep replacement of signs for individual eligible attractions (at operators’ cost)

#5. Improve the municipal signage policies in relation to tourist signs and tourist drives

#6. Implement stricter adherence to tourist signing policies and guidelines

#7. Progressively upgrade street name signs in rural areas to the larger size

These actions, together with other recommendations in this report, will have the following benefits:

·         reduce the number of visitors who lose their way or feel unsure of their path

·         improve visual amenity

·         lift the reputation of the region as a tourism destination

·         reduce ongoing maintenance costs

·         ensure the system of approving tourist signs is fair and transparent

The recommendations are made on the primary basis of improving functionality for sign users. Of secondary importance are visual amenity, promoting tourism and cost effectiveness. Traffic signs are not provided to promote individual attractions or businesses, nor for marketing purposes.

The package of recommendations is based on sound wayfinding principles and with an understanding of the increasing uptake of GPS navigation systems and future improvements to navigation technology.

In short, the way forward is simplification, not expansion.

As a result of this report, the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is currently reviewing its Signage Policy.