VISITOR numbers in the wintry south-west are surprisingly strong despite wild weather conditions, tourism operators say.
Couples and families from Melbourne along with interstate travellers make up the majority of winter tourists to the region, although a growing number of south-east Asian visitors have chosen the region’s colder conditions over the sub-tropics.
Warrnambool City Council tourism services manager Peter Abbott said while winters were obviously quieter than the summer season, visitor levels were still good.
“We’ve seen whales are the key [to attracting visitors], so we’d like to see more of them about,” Mr Abbott said.
“We run the Whales Great Ocean Road Facebook page, and we have about 4000 likes, so it’s obviously an attraction that people are interested in.
“We’ve had a few storm watchers come to the information centre, and we’ve seen a lot of response from the photos The Standard posted, which we also shared around. It’s shipwreck weather.”
Accommodation providers in the region’s coastal towns reported moderate to strong bookings over the winter period with Melbourne visitors making up the majority of holidaymakers.
Anchors co-owner operator Tanya White said her Port Campbell business was still busy despite the overcast skies and windy weather.
“Mainly Melbourne visitors but we’ve had people stay here from Queensland, NSW and Singapore over the past few weeks,” she said. “We tend to think summer is the only time people head this way but a lot of people enjoy the wintry weather, being able to have a glass of wine by the fireplace.
“Local produce is a big selling point. There’s so much produced in the local area, whether it’s wine, cheese, chocolate and that’s something visitors really respond to.”
Mr Abbott said the majority of winter tourists hailed from Melbourne, with Fun4Kids providing a boost for accommodation providers last week.
“Numbers in the family market have been affected this year by the good ski season,” Mr Abbott said.
“The good snow dump right before the school holidays, particularly given the poor conditions of recent years, means some may have decided to go to the snow rather than come here.”