In the wake of this week’s tourism operators meeting, called by Visit Ballarat, the City of Ballarat would like to outline some of the economic reasons for its decision to cease the service agreement with Visit Ballarat and to resume operation of tourism services.
Council was spending $2.7 million per year with Visit Ballarat to market Ballarat and support the tourism sector. However, growth in Ballarat’s tourism numbers has been much slower than the rest of regional Victoria.
Since 2017, international visitor growth has been only 2.6 per cent in Ballarat, whereas Bendigo has had almost 12 per cent and regional Victoria over 10 per cent growth.
Overnight stays in Ballarat are down 40 per cent for international tourists and almost 12 per cent for domestic tourists.
When combined with its event operations spend, the City of Ballarat invests some $6 million a year for a $484 million tourism services output, or return.
In contrast, the City of Greater Bendigo spends $3.8 million a year for a $479 million output. And the City of Greater Geelong – which is almost twice the size of Ballarat – spends $4.9 million for a $976 million return.
In 2017, the City of Ballarat extended its long history of community event management to attract high profile large events such as multiple AFL games, the highly successful White Night and Spilt Milk, which sold out in a week – and secured a new three year commitment for the Cycling Australia Road Nationals.
Visitation at events increased to 450,000 in 2018 – a 17 per cent increase on 2017 – highlighting the hard work of Council’s Events Team.
Contrary to some claims, the City of Ballarat also met regularly with Visit Ballarat to draw attention to these statistics and the implications for business and the community.
These are the statistics confronting Council when it had to decide on its 2019/20 budget and how best to invest ratepayer’s funds.
The City of Ballarat aims to turn these statistics around by providing an innovative marketing, business development and events program that meets the needs of the whole of the city, not just micro sectors.
We have already been in contact with Visit Victoria and Regional Development Victoria and have met with respective State Government ministers and administrators about the Regional Tourism Services Review – dating back to well before this version of the review was announced. In fact, through the state’s Regional Partnerships program, the City of Ballarat was heavily involved in looking at a range of early options for a more effective provision of services and regional promotion for tourism businesses across the Grampians region, not just here in Ballarat.
“As this region’s Capital City, the City of Ballarat will continue to work with our state government colleagues and neighbouring councils to support sustainable business growth and a greater share of visitation and high paying tourists. We want our city to continue to prosper and take advantage of the great momentum and interest we currently have in all things Ballarat,” said Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh.