South-west set to welcome big tourism numbers this long weekend

A bumper long weekend of events will see thousands of visitors descend on the south-west and inject more than $10 million into the region’s economy.

Port Fairy’s annual folk festival is the weekend’s biggest event with patrons pouring $9 million into the town but Warrnambool will reap its own tourism boom.

By the seaside: Warrnambool is preparing for a bumper March long weekend.

By the seaside: Warrnambool is preparing for a bumper March long weekend.

The city will host junior surf lifesaving state titles, annual tennis and volleyball tournaments, the grand final of a state sprintcar series and Thai new year festivities.

Warrnambool City Council's visitor economy manager David McMahon said the event calendar was bursting.

"We have a great wave effect from the folk festival," he said. "There are many people staying here. It's the largest event on the weekend and the ripple effect in Warrnambool is huge. It's a peak weekend for us. All indicators are that most operators are having a great long weekend."

“Both the nippers carnival and the tennis alone have an estimated direct economic impact of $1.4 million into the economy across the weekend.

Mr McMahon said there was still room for people to invite their family and friends to the city to have a great weekend.

"The nippers carnival has over 1500 participants and they are bringing several accompanying family and friends to watch," he said.

"The caravan parks are filling up with thousands arriving.

"We also have the Warrnambool Lawn Tennis Club open tournament with it's $10,000 prize pool.

"It brings hundreds of people to Warrnambool. It flies under the radar a little but the club has a great reputation for having the best courts in the country. They look superb." 

He said there was great weather forecast, and there was something for everyone in Warrnambool.

"There are as always, many international and inter-state visitors across the region, attending our events” he said.

"We've got some great weather which is always handy.

"Warrnambool keeps kicking over these high-profile weekends and it's busy across the entire state.

“We have significant visitation because there is so many events across the south-west. Our new event strategy needs to keep pace with that growth." 

Accommodation providers in the city were already preparing for the influx.

Lady Bay Resort manager Lydia Kippe said all 65 of their self-contained apartments had been booked 12 months prior.

“Our bookings are mostly repeat guests over this March long weekend,” she said. “And most have booked 12 months in advance.”

Ms Kippe said local sporting events had attracted the guests who were predominantly families.

“Eighty-seven per cent of this weekend’s guests are here for the nippers carnival,” she said. “With the remainder here for the tennis.

“That’s over 60 families who will spend three days here in the city which is fantastic for Warrnambool’s economy.”

For Simon’s Waterfront functions coordinator Tonia Wilcox parking issues were already at the forefront.

“I think it’s going to be a huge weekend,” she said. “We’ve got a booking of 300 on Sunday night and I’m certain it will be non-stop from Friday night. 

“We’re checking staff and stock and I can already see myself having to park up at Flaggy to avoid the traffic on Pertobe Road.”

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