The push for world heritage listing for the Central Victorian Goldfields will be bolstered by a trip by Ballarat’s mayor to China, councils say.
Mayor Samantha McIntosh will travel to the three-day Third Regional Conference of the Organisation of World Heritage Cities Asia-Pacific in Suzhou, China on October 30.
Thirteen nearby councils, including City of Greater Bendigo and Golden Plains Shire, are supporting the bid.
Cr McIntosh said the ability to present at the conference and talk to UNESCO assessors would fast-track their application, which council has been advised could be complete in two to five years.
“I feel that it’s a really important step to take whilst we’re working on this, on the world stage,” he said.
The bill for the travel will be footed entirely by conference organisers. It follows repeated controversy around Cr McIntosh’s international travel to the World Conference of Historical Cities.
Economic modelling by the Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive group state it could provide a $68 million annual boost to the area’s economy.
Pyrenees Shire mayor David Clark said a world heritage listing would enhance tourist trade for rural shires.
“You think about Sovereign Hill as a draw card. Tourists go there, and then they get back on their bus,” he said. “But with this they might come to Sovereign Hill, stay in Ballarat, then they go off and spend three days in the broader region. That’s what I see happening.”
“[This trip] is effectively putting the project in front of the people who make the decision about its actual listing, probably six to twelve months ahead of when we might have made that connection.”
City of Ballarat have also contributed $30,000 to create an up to $200,000 business case for the heritage listing, which will go toward research on the project, before it is pitched to the Victorian Government.
Cr McIntosh will travel to Suzhou immediately after the council vote on the mayor and deputy mayor positions on October 29.