In­ter­na­tional push

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

A10-year vi­sion to at­tract an ex­tra $20-mil­lion in in­ter­na­tional tourism spend­ing in the Grampians is at the core of why Marc Slee­man is ‘spread­ing the word’ in Europe this week.

Grampians Tourism has a mis­sion to dou­ble the 54,400 in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to the re­gion in the next decade and is tak­ing a sales pitch di­rectly to the mar­ket.

Grampians Tourism chief ex­ec­u­tive Marc Slee­man jet­ted off on Saturday for a 10-day whirl­wind pro­mo­tional tour of ma­jor ci­ties in Europe and the United King­dom.

As part of a Visit Victoria Road­show he has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­mot­ing western Victoria’s Great South­ern Tour­ing Route, which in­cludes the Grampians, Bal­larat, Gee­long-bel­lar­ine and Great Ocean Road tourism re­gions.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Des­ti­na­tion Gipp­s­land and Des­ti­na­tion Phillip Is­land and Yarra Val­ley and Dan­de­nong Ranges tourism boards are also on the tour.

“It’s an intense 10 days vis­it­ing seven ci­ties where we meet with key in­ter­na­tional whole­sale travel agen­cies and tell them why they need to visit our part of the world,” Mr Slee­man said.

“I’m rep­re­sent­ing about a quar­ter of the state be­cause the re­al­ity is that in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors do not sim­ply come to Victoria re­gions in iso­la­tion.

“We, for ex­am­ple, lever­age off ex­po­sure of the Great Ocean Road or per­haps Sov­er­eign Hill in Bal­larat in en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to also spend ex­tended time in the Grampians.”

Mr Slee­man said dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional mar­kets pre­sented dif­fer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­gional ar­eas and there was a strong mes­sage that Europe and the United King­dom of­fered con­sid­er­able growth po­ten­tial for the Grampians.

“We see this mar­ket as a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity for the tour­ing route and the road­show pro­vides us with a chance to con­nect di­rectly with ma­jor in­dus­try play­ers in a short pe­riod of time,” he said.

“The UK and Euro­pean mar­kets have an ap­petite for re­gional Victoria.

“Vis­i­tors from th­ese parts of the world tend to dis­perse right across the re­gions and rep­re­sent growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for the in­dus­try.

“The UK and Europe rep­re­sents 53.3 per­cent of all in­ter­na­tional vis­i­ta­tion to the Grampians.

“Vis­i­tors from other in­ter­na­tional mar­kets don’t nec­es­sar­ily spend as much time as this group in re­gional Victoria.”

Mr Slee­man said a col­lec­tive lure in at­tract­ing Euro­pean vis­i­tors to the Grampians was the com­bi­na­tion of wilder­ness, wildlife, wine, food and hos­pi­tal­ity.

“When it comes to the Grampians the prospect of ‘big na­ture’ is a ma­jor at­trac­tant and we have it in spades,” he said.

“Of course we also have our won­der­ful wine in­dus­try and plenty of good food and I think the other el­e­ment we have that is in­fi­nite is our hos­pi­tal­ity.

“We truly welcome vis­i­tors into our re­gion and they leave feel­ing like they are part of the fam­ily.”

Mr Slee­man said at­trac­tions such as a de­vel­op­ing Grampians Peaks Trail would be the sub­ject of heavy pro­mo­tion in com­ing years and much of the ef­fort would be in try­ing to in­crease vis­i­tors’ ‘length of stay’.

“Length of stay in­creases yields and sub­se­quent eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the re­gion,” he said.

“The in­ter­na­tional mar­ket rep­re­sents more than 54,000 vis­i­tors a year and about $20-mil­lion in vis­i­tor spend­ing in the Grampians tourism re­gion alone.

“That’s what we’re try­ing to grow with a fo­cused ap­proach to mar­ket­ing.

“Con­sider what it would mean in 10 years for the re­gion if we’re suc­cess­ful in our goal of 10 per­cent growth year on year. In 10 years it means we dou­ble what we have now.

“This is an ex­er­cise of putting the Grampians, a place we know is spe­cial, on a global map. We want the world to know how spe­cial this place is.”

Mr Slee­man said con­tin­ued mu­nic­i­pal and in­dus­try sup­port was crit­i­cal for the suc­cess of the vi­sion.

“Grampians Tourism does this pri­mar­ily for the ben­e­fit and sup­port of the mu­nic­i­pal shires of Ararat, North­ern Grampians, Hor­sham and Ararat and our hun­dreds of in­dus­try part­ners,” he said.

“For me a lot of it is about sup­port­ing small busi­nesses in re­gional Victoria. I per­son­ally get a sense of re­ward in seeing this sec­tor grow.

“In­creased vis­i­ta­tion sup­ports small busi­ness and that ul­ti­mately pro­vides eco­nomic ben­e­fit to com­mu­ni­ties in and around the Grampians.”

The tour in­volves vis­its to Am­s­ter­dam, Ham­burg, Berlin, Lille­ham­mer, Glas­gow, Pre­ston-ley­land and Lon­don.

WORLD STAGE: Grampians Tourism chief ex­ec­u­tive Marc Slee­man is flanked by Visit Victoria Road­show Euro­pean or­gan­is­ers Claire Gold­ing, UK and Europe Visit Victoria re­gional manager, left, and Con­ti­nen­tal Europe Visit Victoria mar­ket­ing manager Bar­bara Samoilenko.

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