Hepburn Shire Council has endorsed joining a Visitor Economy Partnership with neighbouring councils Ballarat, Moorabool, Pyrenees, Golden Plains, representatives from the tourism industry and the Victorian Government to continue to boost tourism to the region.

“Tourism accounts for one in seven jobs in Hepburn Shire and creates more than $120 million per annum in value, which flows into multiple parts of the economy,” said Hepburn Shire Mayor, Cr Brian Hood.

The decision follows recommendations put forward by the Victorian Government in the Visitor Economy Recovery and Reform Plan which aims to attract more international, interstate and intrastate visitors by making the most of marketing expenditure, and ensuring state-wide collaboration, which include partnerships formed with Victorian Government support.

Data released by Tourism Research Australia in December 2022 indicates that the Daylesford Macedon Tourism (DMT) region continues to recover at a rate ahead of the regional Victorian average.

Released by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) last week, the latest visitation figures capture the quarter ending December 2022. They report on overnight visitation, overnight spend and daytrip visitation and spend.

According to the results, the Daylesford Macedon Ranges had the strongest growth in overnight visitation compared to any other region in Victoria – with an incredible 80% growth compared to the same time in 2021. On an annual basis, the region is also in equal first spot (with Geelong and the Bellarine) with 52% growth.

According to Steve Wroe, CEO of Daylesford Macedon Tourism, “This is a fantastic result and the sector that we most want to grow in. Overnight visitors to our region are worth over $500 per person, so to see such a strong growth in overnight visitors is extremely positive.”

Cr Hood said the results are a testament to the resilience of the region’s operators and strong work to attract visitors.

“Congratulations to DMT who work hard to market the region and support operators with advocacy and resources. We also recognise the role of tourism operators and local businesses who provide a range of excellent options for people who come to our beautiful Shire,” he said.

“The strength of the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges brand is clear, and will remain intact, as the numbers speak for themselves,” said Steve Wroe. “But Ballarat is a key source market for the region, so cooperation at a VEP level with the city makes sense and we look forward to working with the Ballarat team to continue to grow visitation, particularly as we look toward the 2026 Commonwealth Games.”

Joining the Visitor Economy Partnership will result in cross regional cooperation and partnerships, maximising visitation to the broader region. It will also provide additional industry-strengthening support being available to businesses in the west of the Shire.

The new partnership begins on 1 July 2023 and will complement the continued work of DMT to market and attract visitors to Hepburn Shire.

“Hepburn Shire has so much to offer, from active and passive recreation on our walking trails and in state parks, to our beautiful townships and historic towns, artisan produce and picturesque landscapes. This partnership will provide an opportunity for operators to expand and attract more visitors to our region,” said Cr Hood.