The tourism sector in Ballarat will get a boost following the formation of a Visitor Economy Partnership which aims to provide leadership and links between community, surrounding regional councils, state government and industry.
The new partnership will operate as a whole of region body to support visitation to Ballarat and neighbouring regions through business support, development of visitor economy experiences, products and delivery of marketing activities.
“The establishment of a Visitor Economy Partnership is an important way to bolster the tourism sector as we emerge from three Covid impacted years,” said City of Ballarat Mayor, Councillor Des Hudson.
“We know that the tourism sector is an important economic lever contributing over $610 million annually to Ballarat’s local economy.
“Despite these impressive figures, the ongoing effects of the pandemic have significantly impacted visitation numbers. Ballarat recorded 2.3 million visitor nights in the year ending September 2022 representing only 74% of pre-pandemic figures.
“This partnership gives us the best chance of recovery by offering visitors a unique regional experience that crosses local government boundaries.”
Hudson said the region’s tourism sector is facing the double threat of cost of living pressure and increased outbound travel.
“The combination of these challenges to recovery and the lasting impact of the pandemic, means that Ballarat must adopt a different approach to grow our visitor base and inspire people to stay longer and spend more,” he said.
Paul Martino, Chair of Ballarat Regional Tourism, said the partnership is the culmination of a collaborative co-design process between the local councils, state government and the tourism industry.
“In helping to shape the future structure of tourism in our region, Ballarat Regional Tourism has advocated for a transparent, entrepreneurial and responsive organisation and are now confident that the foundations are in place to enable this new Visitor Economy Partnership to flourish,” he said.
The new network of Visitor Economy Partnerships will be overseen by a Board comprised of an Independent Chair, five industry representatives and a representative from each of the five local councils. Board recruitment is expected to commence in late April.
The new Visitor Economy Partnership is expected to be in operation by July.