Plan to lure international visitors with food

STEPS are being taken to improve south-west Victoria’s low tourist yield, after it was revealed a majority of international visitors choose not to venture out of Melbourne.

Tourism Australia has suggested its restaurant-themed national campaign will encourage more foreign tourists to regions noted for agriculture and viticulture.

Great South Coast group chairman Chris O’Connor said it was commonly understood that international visitors held Australian produce in high regard, especially Victorian-produced cheese and wine.

“There is a lot of potential in this new campaign for the south-west,” the Corangamite Shire mayor said. 

“All the research shows that international visitors are keen on nature-based tourism,  seeing the great outdoors, as well as sampling local food and wine and buying produce that’s unique to the area.”

Figures released by the Bureau of Statistics earlier this month showed more than 1.1 million people visited Melbourne last financial year yet only a 10th of those ventured outside the state capital.

The Great Ocean Road was the second-most popular destination in Victoria following Melbourne, with Ballarat, Bendigo, the Yarra Valley and Phillip Island also making the top 10.

Cr O’Connor said local government, regional authorities and several tourism boards had been working with charter groups and associated businesses to encourage more international visitors to stay longer in the south west.

“That’s something that would really suit local hotels, bed and breakfast providers, other businesses — having tourists staying here overnight more often,” he said.

“If they come down, see the Twelve Apostles and return to Melbourne all in the same day then we’re not getting the economic spin-off that we could with longer visits.”

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