Visitors have flocked to Sovereign Hill as the region’s top attraction recorded a tourism boom in 2016.
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More than 789,000 people attended the historic site or one of its attractions in the 2015-16 financial year.
This was a 55,000-person increase on the previous financial year.
An Ernst & Young economic impact study revealed Sovereign Hill contributed $183 million to the Ballarat economy.
The outdoor museum section contributed $155.9 million to the city.
Sovereign Hill chief executive Jeremy Johnson said the report’s figures showed the site was one of the largest tourist attractions in regional Victoria.
“Not only does its award-winning reputation attract tourists to Ballarat who may not have visited the region, but we are also one of the largest employers in Ballarat,” he said.
“The training and work experience provided by Sovereign Hill also contributes to building the overall skill set and productivity of the region.”
The economic impact study included visitor numbers to Blood on the Southern Cross, the Ballarat Gold Museum, Narmbool Farm and Sovereign Hill itself.
The increase was partly attributable to its Christmas in July: Winter Wonderlights event, which helped boost traditionally low June and July visitor numbers.
There were 95,000 visitors to the event in 2016, more than double 42,000 in 2014.
Sovereign Hill estimated its direct impact on the Ballarat tourism industry was $67.2 million.
This accounted for 16 per cent of Ballarat’s tourism industry in 2015-16.
Mr Johnson said the report was commissioned to help Sovereign Hill apply for government funding.
“Four years ago we got 20,000 people to the Winter Wonderlights, this year we got more than 112,000,” he said.
“The visitor economy in Victoria is cyclical – there is the Christmas, January and Easter peak periods – now we have put a third peak in July.”
Sovereign Hill board president Adrian Doyle said the report showed how important the site was to Ballarat.
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