Tourist numbers to Ballarat swelling

BALLARAT’S tourism sector grew by more than 30 per cent in the year to September as more domestic and international visitors take in the region’s sites. 

New figures from Tourism Research Australia shows the region received 5.3 per cent of Victoria’s visitor market, with 617,000 overnight domestic visitors. 

The growth figures account to a 32.4 per cent rise on the same period in the previous year. 

Visitors spent more than 1.3 million nights in total in the region, representing an increase of 16.4 per cent on the previous year. 

Domestic tourism accounted for more than 75 per cent of visitors with Ballarat’s proximity to Melbourne proving popular with day trippers. 

Interstate visitor numbers jumped 57.3 per cent on the same time last year. 

Melbourne-based visitors Jill Wheeler and Drew Hopkins said they enjoyed bringing friends to Ballarat and Linton with the region offering a great deal of attractions. 

“There are major attractions like the art gallery and Sovereign Hill as well as Lake Wendouree and the Botanical Gardens, but I enjoy the historical features of Ballarat,” Mr Hopkins said. 

Ballarat Regional Tourism chief executive George Sossi said the new figures showed Ballarat continues to punch above its weight in the tourism stakes.

“We haven’t seen figures around these levels since before 2002,” he said. 

“The efforts of the industry, investment in events and our consistent and creative marketing having been paying off for a few years now and we have finally reached our stride.”

Mr Sossi said 35 journalists from tourism, lifestyle, food and fashion publications had visited Ballarat as guests of the tourism authority. 

“Ballarat’s industry has risen to the challenge and with support from Ballarat Regional Tourism has been able to prove that it can offer something for everyone,” he said.