TOURISM chief Roger Grant says if more accommodation venues are built on the Bellarine, tourism dollars spent in the local economy will exceed $1 billion by 2030.
Mr Grant, the executive director of Tourism Geelong and the Bellarine, spoke about the Bellarine’s desperate need of new accommodation at a Portarlington Business Development Association function last week.
He said the latest figures showed that Geelong and the Bellarine region attracted 5.1 million visitors during the past year, of which 3.7 million were day-trip travellers.
Mr Grant said the region now faced a real challenge of converting those day trip visitors into overnight visitors.
“To be able to do that we need places for them to be able to stop and stay,” he said.
“I’m sure you all agree, while we have tremendous accommodation opportunities on the Bellarine, we are still desperately short of accommodation.”
Mr Grant believed that the 5.1 million visitors could increase to 7 million by 2030 if more accommodation venues were established, meaning expenditure by visitors would exceed the $1 billion mark.
“The point to capitalise on is that we need at least another 1,500 to 2,000 new guest rooms, not just on the Bellarine but also in Geelong, so there are some real challenges, particularly to make sure in the process of delivering that accommodation, we don’t want to destroy the rural amenity beauty of the Bellarine,” he said.
“We’ve been talking to strategic planners to put a new lens on, trying to get them to understand the importance of the industry and to get them to look at where best to place major infrastructure, specifically accommodation.
“And I say to you, wineries, golf courses, olive groves; these are the places we need major accommodation, and of course, Portarlington and Bellarine Bayside again provides wonderful opportunities for additional accommodation.”
Mr Grant said that those 5.1 million visitors presently contributed $942 million to the local economy.
“So that target of $1 billion is not a pipe dream. It’s something that is very much achievable, as long as we have the right infrastructure, the right reasons for people to come, and then stop and stay.”