Hospitality and tourism industry veteran Don Carrazza reckons Mildura has lost its zest and enthusiasm as a tourist town.

And he is not backwards in coming forward with an example, citing what he witnessed post-Christmas Day last year.

“I came into Mildura on Boxing Day to find the town buzzing with tourists and nowhere for them to go for a drink, for a meal or to shop,” Mr Carrazza said.

“It was a ghost town with no businesses open to look after their needs. ‚Ä®Even the Mildura Grand Hotel didn’t provide a simple breakfast or refreshments over the three days of public holidays. Guests who have been coming up here for 20 or 30 years, suddenly found the Chandelier Dining Room closed for breakfast.

“Naturally they were shocked – this has never happened in the history of the hotel before. I just said to myself – you can’t do that, you can’t have 160 or more people in a hotel and not serve them a sandwich – it’s not on.”

Mr Carrazza said that if as a tourist town that’s how we identify ourselves, Mildura has to do much better.

“A tourist destination looks after its guests and provides services to ensure visitors have the best possible time in their location,” he said

“Quite frankly, I felt gutted and deflated when I saw what the town was like on Boxing Day.

“I understand that public holiday and Sunday penalty rates are prohibitive to small businesses, but I think customers understand and are fine with paying a public holiday or Sunday surcharge for the privilege of being looked after when everyone else is having a day off.

“We could also consider developing a roster system for cafes, bars and restaurants that ensures one of each will always be open for service. In that way, visitors have a place to go.

“The venue that elects to be open benefits from the concentrated numbers who attend their venues. This roster system could be coordinated by our economic development corporation and made available on the Visit Mildura website, as well as through our tourist information centre.

“The roster system could equally apply to other businesses such as pharmacies and newsagents.”