THE Wimmera is set to experience an economic windfall this week as thousands of sports fans travel to and through the region.
Horsham Motorcycle Club will host the Australian Junior Motocross Championships at the weekend, attracting about 2000 people to the city.
Thousands of Fremantle football supporters are also heading for the Wimmera on their way to Melbourne for the AFL grand final on Saturday.
Because of packed flights, many bus companies will run buses across the Nullarbor for Fremantle fans.
Horsham Mayor David Grimble said the AFL grand final and the motocross at Dooen created opportunities for visitors to visit the region and enjoy what the Wimmera had to offer. “The motocross has been planned for a long time and is a very significant event for Horsham,” he said.
“We expect a lot of people to the city and not just competitors – there will also be families, supporters and spectators.
“These events generate so much activity and prosperity and it’s such a great thing for the region.
“People will need to eat, buy fuel and stay somewhere, so there are lots of benefits.”
Cr Grimble said he hoped visitors would think about returning to the Wimmera.
“Hopefully people come for a particular event and then they might think to come back again,” he said.
“We are strategically placed for tourists – being on a main highway.”
He said the city was well presented to people who were travelling to the AFL grand final.
“As they come through they will notice how inviting Horsham is and hopefully they will want to come back,” he said.
Cr Grimble said having large events in the city was also a testament to the dedication of community groups and clubs.
“Horsham Motorcycle Club has work particularly hard to get the club up to a level where it could accommodate this competition,” he said.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke said first impressions were vital to tourism.
“People do return to the area and it is important they are left with a good impression of the services we have,” she said.
“These are opportunities to showcase what we have in the region, which is always positive.”
Horsham Rural City tourism manager Chris McClure said the motocross would give the region a huge financial boost.
“We believe there will be 2000 visitors to Horsham during the championships that wouldn’t otherwise be here during that time,” he said.
He said the economic benefit of the extra visitors was estimated at more than $2 million.
He said accommodation across the Wimmera was almost completely booked ahead of the championships.
Qantas has announced four additional flights to assist football fans travelling to Melbourne for the grand final.
Qantas domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said the airline would continue to monitor demand throughout the week and assess if further capacity was required.
Perth bus charter company Horizon West started transporting Fremantle fans to Melbourne on Tuesday night.