Developing a local tourist signing policy

Local governments should aim to devise a local tourist signing policy that is fair, relevant, reflects the requirements of local road authorities, champions the needs of the visitor and promotes the tourism offering of their area.

A local area signing policy should:

  • state clearly the council philosophy under which tourist signing is permitted and of the parameters within which local tourism operators can apply
  • promote fairness and equity
  • recognise the commercial needs of business within the context of the information needs of visitors, how the travelling public processes information, and the rights of the resident community
  • be formally adopted by Council and made available in written and electronic formats.

Developing a policy – how to start

Most councils base their signing policies on the Tourist Signing Guidelines of their respective State or Territory. These guidelines try to provide a degree of consistency across the state/territory and are binding on roads under the control of the road authority.

Most councils use the broad principles of the state/territory guidelines regarding eligibility criteria, sign format etc., then add components to reflect any special needs or conditions of their own communities. This also ensures that, where an operator’s signing request spans both main roads and the local road network, consistency is maintained between signing on both road networks.

A local area signing policy should reflect any special planning or urban design policies relevant to that area, especially in environmentally and culturally sensitive locations.

Your local tourist signing policy – what to include

Aim for your local area signing policy to be concise, relevant, understood and useful to the local tourism industry.

As a basis, a local signing policy should:

  1. include eligibility criteria for tourism attractions and services, including any special sectors, e.g. wineries
  2. specify the number of signs permitted for eligible businesses and from what distance they can be signed
  3. note any moratoria on tourist signing on certain streets/roads, intersections etc.
  4. describe the signing application and assessment process, including dual processes for handling applications concerning signing on both main and local roads
  5. outline the type of signs permitted to be used, and under what circumstances
  6. state the maximum number of signs permitted at any intersection and the means of rationalising them when demand exceeds the permitted limit
  7. include information about the requirement that tourist road signs be manufactured to Australian Standards and to the road authority specifications, using approved sign designers, manufacturers and installers
  8. clarify who is responsible for the cost of design, manufacture, installation, maintenance, alterations and replacement of signs
  9. explain how symbols and route markers can be used on signs (note: Road authorities only permit the use of symbols tested under A.S. 2342)
  10. state the broad conditions of the permit under which businesses will be granted use of the road reserve for signing and for what period (detailed conditions should be part of the sign permit itself, which needs to be signed-off by the operator)
  11. include a statement saying that, notwithstanding the terms of the permit, the road authority reserves the right at any time to relocate or remove the sign for traffic management and/ or safety reasons.

Who should be involved?

The preparation of a tourist signing policy should be done in conjunction with local tourism bodies, or at least a steering committee representing road authorities and tourism interests. Councils need to be able to prove that the policy has had input from the tourism industry.

Tips for creating an effective tourist signing system – tips