TOURISTS have flocked back to the Grampians with a 63 per cent increase in day trippers last financial year following the re-opening of a major link road after last year’s floods.
It was the largest increase in domestic daytrip visitors across Victoria’s regions for 2011-12.
However, the official estimated figure of more than a million daytrippers and 658,000 overnight visitors to the Grampians last financial year was still below the pre-2006 bushfire throughput. There were less international overnight visitors with a 12.7 per cent drop last financial year with only 29,100 listings and the total number of nights stayed by domestic visitors fell by 2.6 per cent to 1.6 million.
The main Dunkeld to Halls Gap road was re-opened in September last year after being closed for nine months because of the January 2011 floods which also closed many other Grampians roads.
The Great Ocean Road still held up well as the state’s most popular regional drawcard with 5.5 million domestic day trippers and 2.5 million overnighters — both up about five per cent on the previous financial year.
Total nights stayed by domestic tourists rose 8.6 per cent to 7.6 million.
International overnight visitor numbers on the coast road were down 8.5 per cent to an estimated 155,300, but were still higher than 12 years ago when 134,500 overnighters were recorded.
On a statewide basis international overnight visitor estimates have grown at an average annual rate of 4.5 per cent since 2008, but only by 0.1 per cent in the regions.
Shipwreck Coast Tourism chief executive Carole Reid said the Great Ocean Road was still rising against a national downward trend in domestic visitor numbers hitting some other areas.
“Internationally our major markets of Europe and the UK face uncertain economic times — these are conditions beyond our control,” she said.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Will Flamsteed said the results were “very significant” in a challenging tourism climate.
“The strong Australian dollar is enticing some of our traditional domestic markets to travel internationally so to show an increase is really pleasing,” he said.
“We are positioning the Grampians to become even more well known and convert that into actual visitors.”
A new smart phone application has been launched along with a suite of short videos of people telling why they like the Grampians.
“Our major focus will be on spring and autumn,” he said. “We want to involve people through social media to plan and share their experiences in the Grampians.”