New rural tourism strategy to boost visitation to Bass Coast

Bass Coast Shire Council has adopted a new strategy to grow rural tourism opportunities outside traditional townships, as the region continues its COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

The Bass Coast Unlocking Rural Tourism Strategy has explored opportunities to streamline sustainable land use options to maximise tourism opportunities across the municipality.

Each year the shire attracts 3.1 million visitors, with the tourism industry contributing $730 million to the region’s economy and more than 8300 jobs in the 2018-2019 financial year alone.

As a result of the pandemic, Bass Coast saw a 54% decline in visitation from 2019 to 2020, but forecasts show those figures are improving and will continue to grow over the next decade.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan, said the strategy was developed in response to feedback from a number of sectors of the community. It also responds to concerns that existing planning scheme controls were insufficient to manage tourism proposals outside of designated townships.

Cr Whelan said Council had listened to community feedback and revised the original strategy after issues were raised about environmental protections, zoning changes, urban land uses in rural areas, plus the consideration of indigenous heritage.

“We received 300 engagements and 46 submissions in the consultative phase for the strategy, which has led to substantial revisions,” he said.

“This strategy is now a holistic, multi-faceted and economically sustainable approach to delivering rural tourism outcomes for our shire.

“It is widely accepted that most tourism activity in Bass Coast is intrinsically connected to our environment and landscapes. We hope this will ensure that future tourism activity and development is located, designed, constructed and managed in a way that preserves and protects native ecosystems and the value these have to our local community and region.”

The Bass Coast Unlocking Rural Tourism Strategy can be found here

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