AS tourist bodies await calls on the reopening of region-to-region tourism, there is optimism that an untapped market could be a key driver in the return of the industry.
Young travellers, who would so often pack their bags and head to Bali or beyond, are being courted by regional tourism while international borders remain closed.
It comes as Tourism Research Australia's August 2020 report, 'Moving Forward - The Role in Domestic Travel In Australia' shows that 11 million people ventured on overseas holidays in 2019.
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With those people - many of them aged 18-35 - remaining at home this year, a new resource for domestic travel opportunities in the coming year or two now exists and regional providers should be taking every moment they can in offering cheap alternatives to overseas destinations.
The report says it will be critical for tourism to make regional Australia affordable to young people going forward.
"People with funds at their disposal don't have to travel," the report says.
"They can save the money, pay off debts or spend it on other goods and services. A domestic experience should represent value for money.
"The average domestic overnight trip lasts less than four nights and costs under $700. A typical overseas trip spans 18 nights and costs $6500. A domestic-led recovery will see changes in the demographics, behaviours and geographic spread of travellers.
"If we can connect people to an early age, if we get a young traveller here in the region, and they get a great visitor experience, food, wine, nature, it's something they'll remember and they'll keep on coming back.Grampians Regional Tourism chief executive officer Marc Sleeman
"When interstate borders reopen and domestic flights resume there should be a similar boost in interstate VFR (visiting friends and relatives) travel."
Chief executive officer of Grampians Regional Tourism Marc Sleeman said the younger demographic would be among a host of targets the Grampians would aim to reach in coming weeks with an aggressive multi-platform marketing campaign which will be rolled out.
"While the Grampians regional brand is nature and the great outdoors, we are also an extremely affordable destination," Mr Sleeman said.
"That's something that needs to be really attractive to the younger market who would normally go to Bali for a holiday.
"There's going to be opportunities to develop different partnerships with markets, who may not have considered regional tourism.
"Traditionally the fact that we're three hours from Melbourne has been a barrier, but post COVID, people will be celebrating the opportunity to hop in the car and drive.
"Given our value for money, we're poised for a swell into the region.
"If we can connect people to an early age, if we get a young traveller here in the region, and they get a great visitor experience, food, wine, nature, it's something they'll remember and they'll keep on coming back."
While the young is one market to tap into and city tourists are to come, it's the regions that will provide the first glimmer of hope for areas like the Grampians.
"The VFR market is 30 per cent of the visitation to our region," Mr Sleeman said.
"We are the central point for reconnecting families and we are about to roll out a campaign in our region that puts the local resident front and centre and encouraging their families to reconnect with us.
"Regional visitation for us is our second biggest source market. Ballarat, Bendigo, Warrnambool are all incredibly important to the economy in the Grampians region. There are 500,000 people within two-and-a-half hours of the park."
Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) chief executive Felicia Mariani said repairing reputational damage to Victoria would need a concerted effort across the board.
"It's going to require us to be incredibly creative to attract domestic visitation," she said.
"The key thing is collaboration, normally when people head off overseas they go away for two to three weeks. No-one is going to take a two-to-three-week holiday domestically, they'll break it into shorter chunks.
"There is a greater propensity for five to seven day domestic holidays around Australia. That's going to mean our regions will have to work together, put together driving holidays, package deals, that show there are things to do for five to seven days.
"We have not seen great examples of cross-regional collaboration. That will become critically important in putting together a travel experience.
"For young people Victoria has everything from adventure holidays such as the high country, Great Ocean Road, bike and hiking trails, we need to activate all of those."
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