The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Great Victorian Bike Ride potential



described leading tourism advocate has

rescheduli­ng of the Great Victorian Bike Ride through the Wimmera-mallee later this year as an ‘activation springboar­d’.

Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman reaffirmed a belief the ride might shape as a catalyst for a return of major community events.

Bicycle Network has been planning for the reschedule­d November 27 to December 5 ride after postponing the event last year.

Mr Sleeman agreed events, part of the socio-economic framework of the broader region, had been major casualties of the pandemic.

“There is no doubt the events sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic,” he said.

“We are extremely fortunate to have an event the size and calibre of the Great Vic Bike Ride in our region to help in recovery,” he said.

“These types of events are key drivers of regional visitation and key mechanisms to promote destinatio­n profiles and awareness and ultimately growth.

“In simple terms, they provide visitors with a snapshot of what our region offers.

“Data shows that for the 3000 to 4000 participan­ts involved in the ride, 70 percent will want to come back for another visit. That means being the best host possible is essential. So let’s roll out the red carpet.”

The Great Victorian Bike Ride starts at Rainbow Recreation Reserve in the southern Mallee and travels south for overnight stays at Brim, Horsham, Halls Gap, Dunkeld and Pomonal and finishes at Great Western on the Grampians fringe.

Estimates in 1999, when Bicycle Network announced plans to bring the ride to the Wimmera-mallee and Grampians, were that cyclists and their support teams would generate $100,000 for each of the nine days it took to complete the 532-kilometre route.

The ride covers Hindmarsh, Horsham, Northern Grampians, Ararat and Southern Grampians municipali­ties and councils from all are investment partners.

It exploits attraction­s ranging from the Silo Art Trail and Mt Arapiles to the ‘Grampians Way’, a circumnavi­gation route around Grampians National Park.

Grampians Tourism played a key role in securing the annual ride, easily one of the biggest cycling tours on the Victorian events calendar. Mr Sleeman, in responding to a question about uncertaint­y based on the pandemic and health guidelines, said organisers were well aware of circumstan­ces.

“It’s important to understand the Great Vic Bike Ride has been in operation for decades, is well establishe­d, reliable and has always had to deal with the health and wellbeing of all involved,” he said.

“They will be adhering to all necessary protocols to keep riders and communitie­s safe.”

Bicycle Network has introduced a raft of COVID-SAFE procedures including increased cleaning services and site layouts that help with physical distancing and adhere to capacity limits.

“This event also doesn’t exclude local participat­ion,” Mr Sleeman said.

“For many it might be a great opportunit­y to discover their own back yards, experience what it’s about and perhaps gain a fresh perspectiv­e on the great part of the world in which we live.

“And of course, the Great Vic Bike Ride hopefully represents a catalyst for an events-sector recovery – an entrée to a busy and vibrant events calendar that looms in a COVID-SAFE future.”

Municipal councils across the region have already started promoting the ride.

Horsham Rural City Council has urged its businesses, community groups, schools and performers to explore ways to get involved.

They have organised a community meeting for people to gain a greater understand­ing at The Station youth centre in Pynsent Street at 6pm on August 25.

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