The City of Greater Bendigo is looking to attract and retain major events in 2021 to make up for the negative effects of Covid-19.
The council has set aside $850,000 in the draft budget for the next financial year with more than $500,000 earmarked for event attraction and acquisition and $350,000 to attract new exhibitions to Bendigo Art Gallery.
“We can’t quantify this in dollar terms, travel restrictions have had a direct negative impact on the visitor economy because we have little or no visitors to visit our tourism businesses, such as cafes, shops and accommodation providers,” Council director of strategy and growth Bernie O’Sullivan told the Bendigo Advertiser.
“The annual budget always allows for event retention and then the balance for new events.
“At present, the split is in the order of 70 per cent retention and 30 per cent new business, because we value business retention more than new business.
“We are always negotiating new opportunities in various sectors, sport and leisure, food and wine, arts and culture, business events and conferencing, agricultural events and car club tours.
“This year we aim to be active and effective in all of these portfolios with the addition of new activity in events that celebrate gastronomy.”
O’Sulivan said council was working with businesses to build new product offerings “in the area of ‘drive tourism’ and nature-based experiences”.
“Marketing campaigns will focus on the domestic market as we prepare for a very competitive environment for intra-state and interstate visitation,” he said.
Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke told the Bendigo Advertiser the Covid-19 restrictions had dealt a massive blow to accommodation providers and event organisers in the region.
“Our tourism and major events unit has been working hard behind the scenes to make sure that as soon as we are allowed, we can re-start our fabulous year-round calendar of events that bring so many people to Bendigo,” she said.