New Visitor Economy Partnership to bolster local tourism

New Visitor Economy Partnership to bolster local tourism

The City of Ballarat Council has voted to bolster local tourism through the formation of a Visitor Economy Partnership.

At the February 2023 Ordinary Council Meeting, Council approved the officer’s recommendation for the establishment of a Visitor Economy Partnership for Ballarat and the surrounding regional councils.

The partnership has been co-designed with all five local councils and the tourism industry with state government support. It is intended to provide strong leadership and links between community, councils, government and industry.

Once all parties have approved the Partnership, it will operate as a whole of region body to support visitation to Ballarat and neighbouring regions through business support, development of visitor economy experiences, products and delivery of marketing activities.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Councillor Des Hudson said, “The establishment of a Visitor Economy Partnership is an important way to bolster the tourism sector as we emerge from three COVID impacted years. We know that the tourism sector is an important economic lever contributing over $610 million annually to Ballarat’s local economy.”

“Despite these impressive figures, the ongoing effects of the pandemic have significantly impacted visitation numbers. Ballarat recorded 2.3 million visitor nights in the year ending September 2022 representing only 74% of pre-pandemic figures.”

“This partnership gives us the best chance of recovery by offering visitors a unique regional experience that crosses local government boundaries.”

Tourism Research Australia has identified two prominent risks for domestic tourism recovery – the increasing cost-of-living pressures within a fragile domestic economic setting and renewed competition from outbound travel.

“The combination of these challenges to recovery and the lasting impact of the pandemic, means that Ballarat must adopt a different approach to grow our visitor base and inspire people to stay longer and spend more,” said Councillor Hudson.

Chair of Ballarat Regional Tourism, Paul Martino is supportive of the new approach, “The new Visitor Economy Partnership is the culmination of a collaborative co-design process between the local councils, state government and the tourism industry, represented by Ballarat Regional Tourism.”

“In helping to shape the future structure of tourism in our region, BRT has advocated for a transparent, entrepreneurial and responsive organisation and are now confident that the foundations are in place to enable this new Visitor Economy Partnership to flourish.”

The City of Ballarat’s decision aligns with the State Government’s Visitor Economy Recovery and Reform Plan that supports the transition of the existing network of Regional Tourism Boards into a new network of Visitor Economy Partnerships.

It will be overseen by a skills-based Board comprised of an Independent Chair, five industry representatives and a representative from each of the five local councils. There will be an opportunity for visitor economy industry representation via a partnership program, as well as through the skills-based industry positions on the Board. Board recruitment is expected to commence in late April.

Resourcing for the partnership will be from the City of Ballarat’s Visitor Economy Unit.

The new Visitor Economy Partnership is expected to be in operation by 1 July 2023.