HALLS GAP - Northern Grampians Shire Council has thrown its support behind a push to broaden the experience for visitors to Halls Gap.
Council will work closely with a newly formed Project Control Group whose task will be to help establish Halls Gap as a tourist resort town.
There is also a strong commitment within the Council Plan for the economic value of tourism to be recognised.
Director Marketing and Community, Jim Nolan, said Halls Gap fit into this commitment very well.
"With the economic benefits that Halls Gap bring to this shire, it is really driving council's commitment through the Council Plan, to ensure recognition is given to Halls Gap as a vital tourist resort," Mr Nolan said.
Mr Nolan said the development of the Halls Gap Hub would also play a major role in gaining that recognition.
He said work on construction of the Hub would commence as soon as the tender was announced.
Shire chief executive officer, Justine Linley, said council was excited about the work commencing.
"All the tenders have significant local content and once finalised, it will be all systems go," Mrs Linley said.
Mrs Linley said having recognition for Halls Gap as a tourist resort town was important and very fitting.
"We are really conscious of the infrastructure assets that are out there, totalling about $1.2 billion. That includes both private and business investment," Mrs Linley said.
"When you look at major telecommunications towers, having the headworks for the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline and other major infrastructure, these are just two, it is vital that Halls Gap is recognised.
"These things cam mean a great deal in terms of being an economic generator."
Mrs Linley said Halls Gap and the Grampians was thriving at present, with operators reporting significant increases in winter this year compared with previous years.
"Winter is usually a quiet time in Halls Gap, but many operators are telling us different this year," she said.
"There is repeat visitation and August was a very good month for the businesses that I have spoken to.
"It means people are coming back, staying longer and spending money in the region, which is all positive. They are enjoying the walks, the scenery and the many other attractions.
"There is no doubt having snow on the Grampians was a big buzz and even though it doesn't happen that often, it brings people to the area.
"We also need to learn to tap into our hidden treasures a little more, like the Heatherlie Track. This really is a great asset, but it's a hidden gem. Not many people really know about it and we need to change that.
"The track connects Stawell to Halls Gap, therefore connecting tourism with the services that we offer and this is a vital link. I think we need to start ramping that up a bit more.
"The Halls Gap bike path is another excellent asset and that is getting amazing usage. It adds to the whole visitor experience."