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.