Bendigo attractions have been booked out every day as Victorian families opted to explore their own backyard over the school holidays.
- The City of Greater Bendigo says local businesses have benefited from a bumper school holiday tourism period
- Local attractions have increased tours, to keep up with surge in visitors
- More Victorians explore Regional Victoria, due to interstate travel restrictions
The City of Greater Bendigo’s Tourism Marketing Manager Glenn Harvey credits the Mary Quant exhibition and debut light festival Awaken as the big draw cards for visitors.
“We’ve had over 60,000 free tickets snapped up for Awaken. It’s been amazing,” Mr Harvey said.
And with tens of thousands of people flocking to Bendigo over the Winter holiday period, there has been a significant flow-on effect for accommodation and hospitality businesses.
“Accommodation has been busy last week and continuing into this week and lots of the hospitality venues have also been busy throughout the week,” he said.
Mr Harvey says while the exact number of visitors is not yet known, “70,000 people visited our tourism website” in recent weeks.
Much needed boost
Bendigo Heritage Attractions says some days it doubled the number of Talking Tram tours to meet crazy demand.
Customer Operations Coordinator Cindy Lobb says it’s been exciting to see strong visitor numbers and interest in attractions for the full two weeks.
“We’ve increased our tours from 10 tours a day up to 15 or 16,” Ms Lobb said.
Hugo Leschen, CEO of the Golden Dragon Museum, says weekends are usually busy on school holidays, but it usually drops off during the week.
“Through this school holiday period, we’ve actually been really busy every day.”
Victorians choose regions amid COVID restrictions
Tourism Marketing Manager with the City of Greater Bendigo Glenn Harvey says Melbourne families usually make up around 50% of the school holiday crowd.
But this time, businesses saw more Victorians from other regions and less interstate visitors.
“We’ve seen people come from all over Victoria,” said Mr Harvey.
Tourism operators agree the interstate travel restrictions has likely meant more people have come to Central Victoria, as travellers choose to stay closer to home amid changing border advice.
“It’s been predominantly families from the Melbourne area,” said Mr Leschen from the Golden Dragon Museum .
Looking ahead to the next school holidays and Bendigo’s next events, local businesses could have a busy few months ahead.
But council says for the town to truly recover from the economic impact of covid-19 lockdowns, the momentum needs to continue.
“It’s been a really tough 18 months, and we’re now getting some great experiences and people are coming back,” Mr Harvey said.
The Australian Sheep and Wool Show’s set to see thousands from across the country come to the Bendigo Showgrounds next weekend. And in August, Bendigo On the Hop is sold out.
“It’s positive signs at the moment, we just hope that it continues.”