Tourism Australia Research figures reveal the city recorded an increase of 500,000 visitors in the 12 months from December 2018 to December 2019 after a drop in visitation and market share in the year prior.
Ballarat attracted a total of 3,362,000 visitors in 2019, returning to a positive trend and more in line with other regional Victorian Cities such as Bendigo and Geelong.
“These results demonstrate that the investment into the visitor economy was the right strategy and is testament to the efforts of both Ballarat Regional Tourism and Council,” Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor said.
Ballarat’s dedicated events and tourism marketing strategy went into overdrive in 2019 with big events that drew record crowds and national attention including Spilt Milk, White Night and the 2019 Foto Biennale.
“These events, coupled with our world-class attractions such as Sovereign Hill, the Ballarat Wildlife Park and Creswick Woollen Mills also saw our international visitor nights grow” he said.
Cr Taylor said Ballarat’s premier sporting venues such as MARS Stadium and the new Ballarat Basketball stadium had elevated Ballarat to a new level as a preferred sporting and event destination for national sporting codes and events.
Council has acknowledged the severe and immediate impact of COVID-19 on the Ballarat business community and is working with government and local operators on a recovery plan to encourage tourists back to its regions post the crisis.
Council will use these ATR figures as a benchmark for recovery.
“We will have a lot of work to do to get back to the visitor numbers of 2019, but we have a strong product offering, and a hard-working tourism and hospitality sector ready to work with us to reignite the visitor experience that is Ballarat,” the Mayor said.
Cr Taylor said Ballarat was not a City to rest on its laurels.
“We will do more to enhance the authentic visitor experience we know our visitors crave, as well as encouraging them to stay longer and spend more while in our beautiful city once it’s safe to do so,” he said.