TOURISM in the Grampians is contributing more than $900 million to the region’s economy each year.
New Tourism Victoria statistics have highlighted the economic contribution of tourism to regional Victoria.
The study shows Grampians tourism generates employment of about 8300 people and contributes $949 million to the economy.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Will Flamsteed said the figures showed the importance of tourism in the region.
“Tourism is an important economic driver and it’s a strong and growing industry,” he said.
“It is important for us to recognise the value of tourism and for the community to see the value of tourism.
“If we grow visitor numbers, we grow the pie for all of us and we will all benefit.”
Mr Flamsteed said visitor numbers to the Grampians had been strong throughout the holiday season.
“Overall it has been pretty good,” he said.
Halls Gap Tourism chairman Geoff Watts believed Halls Gap and the Grampians were getting back to the boom times of pre-drought, flood and fire times.
“I have two businesses here and we’ve been completely booked out over the holidays,” he said.
“I have been here for three and a half years and it keeps getting better and better.
“We’re promoting Halls Gap and Grampians Tourism is working with Tourism Victoria to promote us and the Grampians which is great.”
Mr Watts said milder weather during spring and summer had helped visitor numbers.
“The cooler weather actually improves visitor numbers,” he said.
“It was really hot last year and the numbers dropped off quickly as people were going to the beach instead.
“However, when it’s cooler people tend to come to the Grampians.
“The weather is really nice at the moment – people are able to go walking without killing themselves in the heat.”
Mr Watts said the Christmas and New Year holiday period had been great for visitor numbers.
“We’ve just had Stop Fest and that had a very good season,” he said.
“They had children’s entertainment and they were flat out.”
Mr Watts said he hoped the town would also see a spike in numbers for the second Halls Gap Cup on January 17.
“The first one last year was quite successful and we are looking forward to seeing what happens this year,” he said.
“Last year we had a lot of people at Lake Fyans Holiday Park who came up for the races so that helped.”
Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher said tourism was a major economic driver for regional Victoria.
“Regional Victoria has a greater reliance on the tourism sector than Melbourne,” she said.
“As a labour intensive industry, tourism also contributes signifi cantly to regional development through employment generation – more people are employed in tourism in regional Victoria than in Melbourne.”