Fewer people visited the Ballarat region last year with tourists spending less money while they were here, figures gathered by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) suggest.
Both domestic and international overnight visitors dropped by 13,000 to 754,000 and 21,000 respectively for the year until September 2018.
In particular there was a sharp decline in the number of people coming to see friends and relatives – a fall of 9.7 per cent – although an analyst at the TRA warned that variations could be subject to a margin of error.
The same research indicated a $57m dip in expenditure for the same period, with the total amount spent by visitors falling to $443m dollars for the year.
Noel Dempsey, CEO of Visit Ballarat said: “Year-on-year data can be unreliable and misleading, so we find it’s better to look at trends over a longer period.”
“Over a sustained period of time, Ballarat has continued to grow the tourism economy with long-term increases in day trip visitors and overnight stays.
“The opportunity remains to attract even more day trip visitors with the breadth of attractions we have and the range of events. Once we have them on our doorstep, we can then develop multi-day stays with tailored itineraries.”
He said day trip visitors had increased by more than 30 per cent in the past five years, while the total of domestic and international visitors to Ballarat had increased by more than a quarter.
Last year, Ballarat/ Sovereign Hill was ranked third in the list of regional Victoria's top attractions with the Great Ocean Road coming top followed by Mornington Peninsula.
Overall in Victoria, the number of overnight trips was up by seven per cent to 25.5m while $14.6 billion tourism dollars were spent in the State during the same period, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. New South Wales attracted the most overnight trips (33.6m) and the highest amount of spending ($20.4 billion).