Tourists keep coming: traditionally quiet January transformed this year

BALLARAT businesses are reaping the benefits of an improved summer events calender, with the usually-quiet month of January transformed into a bumper four-week period.

Accommodation for this weekend is expected to be at over 90 per cent full thanks largely to the Ballarat Beer Festival, the Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields festival and the wash up from the Cycling Australia Road National Championships.

Ballarat Regional Tourism director George Sossi said between 80 and 95 per cent of beds had been full for the previous fortnight.

“January used to be a quiet month but now with the introduction of events we’ve been chasing for a long time, along with tourism marketing, it’s turned into quite a profitable month for the industry,” he said.

“It also acts as a catalyst for securing other events into the future and is a good snowball event that works positively for Ballarat.

“Traditionally the typical tourism volume used to filter out in the first weekend of January but these events are the catalyst to start to redress that.”

The Road National Championships in Buninyong last week drew over 25,000 people to the region, up 25 per cent on last year.

That event alone is expected to have brought over $4 million to the Ballarat district.

Mr Sossi said the Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival next month along with a number of basketball tournaments would keep visitor numbers high through to the end of summer.

“We’re very well positioned for hosting sporting events,” he said. 

“We’re certainly trying to take that high ground of being the home of sports.”

Ballarat Beer Festival co-director Simon Coghlan said crowd figures for this year’s event were expected to reach 10,000, giving the local economy a $1 million boost.

“We had a really big marketing push in Melbourne and other regional centres so we expect a lot of people to travel to Ballarat and stay overnight,” he said.

“With events on the Friday night we’re expecting a lot of people to stay two nights, and they’ll eat at cafes and restaurants and fill up their cars with petrol so it contributes to a lot of people.”

evan.schuurman@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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