Shire acknowledges importance of tourism

Northern Grampians Shire Council has acknowledged the importance of tourism to the future wellbeing of the shire.

Tourism generates $78 million into the economy of the Northern Grampians Shire.

Tourism generates $78 million into the economy of the Northern Grampians Shire.

Considering a report on reviewing tourism services, councillors welcomed the figures which showed just how vital tourism is.

The report showed that the Grampians National Park provides a destination for nature-based tourism and is the principle tourism product in the Northern Grampians Shire.

Council's Director Economic and Community, Jim Nolan, said tourism made an important contribution to the economy.

"The direct and indirect annual output of tourism in the Grampians region is in the order of $224 million," Mr Nolan said.

"Within the Northern Grampians Shire, tourism generates $78 million (5.7%) of output and supports 472 (9.9%) jobs."

Mr Nolan said this economic benefit was driven by:

734,000 domestic overnight visitors spending more than two million nights.

34,400 international overnight visitors.

904,000 domestic day trip visitors.

Mr Nolan said the primary service provided by council is through the Visitor Information Centres at Stawell, Halls Gap and St Arnaud.

He said the key quantitative indicator used to measure the level of service is the number of visitors receiving the service.

"Qualitative indicators are somewhat more subjective, and for the purpose of this review, visitor feedback is the key qualitative indicator of service, and in particular, an annual survey of visitors and visitor responses to research undertaken by Tourism Victoria and Grampians Tourism."

It is estimated that there are up to 100,000 visitors to Halls Gap annually, 10,000 in Stawell and 5000 in St Arnaud.

Mr Nolan said the total number of visitors serviced annually varied from year to year at each centre. These variations can be due to seasonal issues relating to natural disasters, events and the level of marketing, broader economic influences such as the Global Financial Crisis and the value of the Australian dollar, as well as growth in the use of digital technology for tourism information.

This is why council has agreed to look at reviewing the way it delivers tourism information, with a focus on providing more online information to tourists.

Cr Karen Hyslop said she felt it would be a good idea for council to look at all options available to it with regards to provision of tourism services.

"We do need to keep looking at all the options and the future of our Visitor Information Centres, and look at the extent of funding that council puts in," she said.

"Tourism is a major part of our economy and it is important that continue to support our businesses and investigate other models of service delivery, to see what can be done better."

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