Great Ocean Road visitor numbers are growing faster than expected, new figures show.
Latest data shows the region generated more than $870 million to the economy last financial year, up 17.8 per cent on the year before and 6.4 per cent higher than the rest of regional Victoria.
The Great Ocean Road region generated more than 11,000 jobs in the tourism industry (8,296 direct and 2873 in indirect employment) – up by 16.1 per cent on 2015-16.
Total tourism employment represented 17.8 per cent of the regional economy's employment. This was 7.9 per cent higher than for regional Victoria (9.9 per cent).
Tourism spend was more than $1.7 billion for the year, up 17.2 per cent on 2015-16.
Total tourism consumption in the Great Ocean Road region was over $1.7 billion – up by 17.2 per cent on 2015-16. Intrastate overnight stays accounted for the biggest visitor segment, followed by day trips and interstate overnight visitors.
Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism (GORRT) chair Wayne Kayler-Thomson said the figures strengthened the case for “substantial investment” in the region.
“The visitor economy of the region is growing far faster than expected at the beginning of the decade and the latest forecasts indicate continued visitation increases of up to 50 per cent by 2025,” he said.
Mr Kayler-Thomson said urgent cash was needed to maintain and develop key infrastructure, including funding the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan. Private sector investment was also vital to providing much-needed high standard accommodation, products and experiences, he said.
“To see the economic indicators all showing positive double-digit growth and confirming that the region is Victoria’s highest performing region continues to strengthen the case for continued government and private investment in the region,” he said.
“This will underpin employment and the sustainability of the cities and towns of the region.”
Federal government told to ‘get out of the way’ on Shipwreck Coast Master Plan funding
The state government is calling on its federal counterparts to “get out of the way” and fund much-needed upgrades to the Shipwreck Coast.
Speaking in Parliament last week, Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said the federal government was dragging its heels on announcing funding, which was vital to progress the next stage of the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan.
The state government announced about $150-million for a Geelong City Deal in its May budget. The deal would fund a convention centre in that city and include about $50 million for the Twelve Apostles region. Hoped-for matching federal cash would bring the contribution to the Shipwreck Coast to about $100 million.
“The Acting Premier and the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to a partnership on Victoria's first city deal back in January of this year,” Ms Pulford said.
“The 2018–19 Victorian state budget allocated $153.2 million towards the Geelong city deal… Four months and one Prime Minister later we are still yet to see the federal government's share of the funding.” Ms Pulford said media reports that the federal government had already approved $150 million for the city deal, but had yet to publicly announce it, seemed to show the announcement was being “sat on for political benefit”.
“The very least the federal government could do is declare the funds available (for the city deal) so that we can get on with delivering these projects for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road,” she said.
“Our government is focused on delivering for all Victorians and getting things done, and we would very much like the federal government to get out of the way.”