South-west reaps reward of long weekend activities

SOUTH-WEST Victoria reaped millions of dollars from one of its biggest-ever Labour Day holiday weekend tourism bonanzas.

A host of sports events, Port Fairy’s world-famous folk festival and the first luxury cruise ship arrival in Portland lured tens of thousands of visitors from across the nation and overseas.

Accommodation venues were booked out.

Warrnambool’s tourism services manager Peter Abbott said late-night arrivals on Saturday were sent as far as Terang to find a bed.

“It certainly was one of our busiest weekends of the year with so much on in such a short space of time,” he said.

“The weather forecast prompted a lot of inquiries last week by people wanting to visit.”

The Folk Festival brought an estimated 30,000 people to Port Fairy while Warrnambool had about 1600 entrants in the state junior surf lifesaving carnival, about 760 for a major tennis tournament and about 700 for the Seaside Volleyball Tournament.

There were also 650 entrants in the Shipwreck Classic fishing competition which finished yesterday and about 100 dog owners in Warrnambool for agility trials. Portland’s streets were filled by thousands of visitors who came to watch the MS Europa dock in harbour with its 330 wealthy passengers, some of whom dispersed through the region on bus trips while others enjoyed a host of displays and events including the state taipan class sailing championships.

Many observers said it was one of the busiest Saturdays the city had ever experienced.

Anglers chasing the prized southern bluefin tuna were also in Portland for the weekend.

Mr Abbott, who helped co-ordinate an itinerary for six busloads of German tourists who visited Tower Hill, Flagstaff Hill and the Twelve Apostles, said it was a chance to showcase the region to a high-end market.

“We will make suggestions which could be incorporated into arrangements for the next cruise ship visitors,” he said.

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