INTERNATIONAL visitors are staying longer in the Grampians and spending more money in the region than ever before.
New statistics from the state government show international visitors stayed in the Grampians for 389,700 nights from January to September this year.
This is up from 273,700 nights for the same time last year.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said overall, international visitors were staying 29 per cent longer than they were last year.
“It’s a significant increase and it’s great to see,” he said.
“This is off the back of some work we have done to try to promote the region and what activities we can offer.”
Mr Sleeman said tourists also seemed to be visiting all areas of the Grampians National Park.
“They are dispersed over all four main areas of the park,” he said.
“By promoting all the different activities we have in the park, people are staying longer and spending more money in the region.
“We find that people are mostly travelling to the Grampians through the great southern tourist route, which includes the Great Ocean Road.”
Mr Sleeman said visitors from Melbourne and interstate were also increasing.
“We’ve seen about a nine per cent increase in other visitors and that, coupled with the increase in international visitors, gives us a feeling that the next 12 months will be very positive for tourism in the region,” he said.
International tourism throughout regional Victoria has also increased in the past year.
From January to September, 536,000 international tourists visited regional Victoria – up from 509,000 in 2016.
The visitors also spent $557 million in regional Victoria, which was an increase from $470 million last year.
Wimmera Mallee Tourism chairwoman and Yarriambiack councillor Helen Ballentine said there had certainly been more international tourism in the region, particularly at Lake Tyrrell, near Sea Lake.
“There has also been some interest from Europeans in Minyip,” she said.
“They are the two key areas at the moment.
“The Silo Art Trail is also attracting more tourists to the region, but we’re not sure how many of those are from overseas.”
Cr Ballentine said Wimmera Mallee Tourism also worked with international students on a project recently.
“The students were very interested in our region, which was great,” she said.
“Word spreads of our region overseas through word of mouth, but also people post photos on Facebook or have blogs to tell others about their experiences.”
Cr Ballentine said tourism was vital for the region as a way to stimulate the economy.
“It helps sustain our small communities,” she said.