IT HAS been a significant year for the newly-formed Ballarat Regional Tourism in the face of fierce competition for tourist dollars, the organisation’s annual general meeting has heard.
Ballarat welcomed almost two million visitors in the year to March, with overnight visitation continuing to grow.
But day trippers fell by 8.2 per cent amidst tough competition and belt tightening.
Board chairman Stuart Benjamin said he was proud of BRT’s achievements as it adapted from a council-run organisation to a stand-alone entity, but there were challenges ahead.
“Although our visitor numbers are increasing, they’re spending less,” he said.
“We’ve got fierce competition.
“People no longer say they’re going to stay in Ballarat in three months time – a lot of that is done front-of-mind now.”
He said more marketing in peak times would play a key role.
BRT chief executive officer George Sossi said there were 1.4 million day trippers and 556,000 overnight visitors in the year to March.
International overnight visitors rose by 8.2 per cent to 23,1000.
“We’ve got to continue to give them a reason to come back and events are a good way to do that,” he said.
Mr Sossi said the city enjoyed 206 event days, generating $17.5 million dollars.
Events with the greatest economic impact were the Cycling Australia Road National Championships from January 9 to 13, which generated $3,723,000, together with two other events in September that produced more than $1 million each – the Victorian Teachers’ Games and the Festival of Motoring.
Specific spring, summer and autumn-winter marketing campaigns also were created to encourage visitors to explore the depth and wealth of activities on offer in Ballarat.