Ballarat’s leaders have brushed aside concern about Ballarat’s tourism offerings over the Easter long weekend, saying the city is best placed to feed off major events throughout the rest of the region.
While other towns and cities across regional Victoria have hosted major Easter attractions over the long weekend, Ballarat has gone without any Easter-specific events for the break.
Thousands headed up the highway for Bendigo’s annual Easter Festival, while strong crowds were again present at the Stawell Gift.
Further afield the annual Bells Beach Surf Classic hit Torquay, while 8000 spectators packed out the Horsham City Oval for the Nitros Circus freestyle motocross show on Sunday afternoon.
While no Easter-specific events were scheduled in Ballarat for the long weekend, the city has enjoy strong figures from the Dr Blake exhibition at the Ballarat Gold Museum which was launched last week.
Ballarat also played host to the Junior Southern Australian Regional Futsal Titles at the Ballarat Futsal Centre.
City of Ballarat mayor Samantha Mclntosh said Ballarat was able to take advantage of nearby major events over the weekend and said while the city was always looking for new events, council needed to be mindful of getting bang for the ratepayers’ buck.
“We know the whole region is strong over Easter with the Stawell Gift and Bendigo Easter Festival, so what Ballarat is doing is putting on something different.”
Among those who choose to vacate Ballarat over the course of the weekend was Mel McKerrow, who visited Werribee for the Family Picnic and Easter Egg Hunt at Werribee Park along with her two children. Ms McKerrow said her family regularly left Ballarat over the Easter long weekend in search of family-friendly activities.
“If Ballarat had some sort of Easter festivities you would not only retain locals instead of losing them to other regional locations over Easter, but you would get the on-flow of relatives visiting those families staying in town, plus people who would travel here to take part,” Ms McKerrow said. “Our small businesses are missing out on revenue.”
Visit Ballarat chief executive Noel Dempsey acknowledged the Easter long weekend had been quiet for Ballarat, but said efforts were being made to secure an event for 2017 and beyond which would target the school holiday crowd.
“Bendigo runs a great festival and it gets great crowds so we won’t try and go head to head with that, but I think there’s a family based event that’s needed which we could offer,” Mr Dempsey said.