Friendly face of Kiama retires

Mavis Sanderson has helped many visitors make the most of their holidays in Kiama. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

Mavis Sanderson has helped many visitors make the most of their holidays in Kiama. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

AFTER 23 years, Mavis Sanderson's happy, smiling face will no longer greet visitors to the town at the Kiama Visitors Centre.

A recent ankle injury, (following a broken ankle three years ago) means the 71-year-old struggles spending time on her feet and has had to retire from the role.

Mrs Sanderson described work at the visitor's centre as challenging, stimulating and satisfying.

"When I started working with tourism, John Shelley was the manager and we had around 56,000 visitors a year," she said.

"It has now grown to approximately 98,000 and one of the major reasons why, I believe, has been through the work and promotion of the area by Visitors Centre staff.

"I have had so much satisfaction personally in being able to help visitors enjoy their holiday and encouraging them to stay in our beautiful Kiama. It is worthwhile going that extra mile to please tourists.

"One incident stands out - a couple came in asking for two weeks' accommodation at Christmas - it was at the very last minute and everything was booked solid.

"I couldn't find anything to suit them, but knew that Surf Beach Holiday Park was building a new cabin called the Pelican Palace, so I rang to see if it was ready and the manager, Leonie, said it wasn't as it needed a good cleaning, but she said they would get it done.

"The couple enjoyed it so much they booked every year for at least 10 years, until the gentleman became ill and they couldn't come any more. Going that extra mile is what the job was all about and that's the type of thing that makes the job so gratifying."

Mrs Sanderson said the majority of people who visit the centre were pleasant, but she still smiles when she thinks of some of the questions that she has been asked over the years.

"One of the regular ones is, 'what time is the Blowhole going to blow?' and: 'what times do the the whales appear?' - producing a timetable for both has always been a challenge."

While Mrs Sanderson said she wasn't quite ready to retire, she was looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Ray, and travelling.

Hopefully she gets the same treatment she gave over the last 23 years.

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