A large collection of events along with the Bendigo Easter Festival led to an increase of visitors to the region during the long weekend.
More than 2500 people visited the Bendigo Information Centre – an increase of 21 per cent on the same time last year.
City of Greater Bendigo tourism manager Kathryn Mackenzie said seeing so many people in town was fabulous.
“A majority of people came from Melbourne, New South Wales and South Australia,” she said.
“We were up 20 per cent in terms of numbers to the visitor centre and it also included a 21 per cent of local visitors, which is fabulous.”
Ms Mackenzie said a number of inquiries were based around seeing the Torchlight Procession, the Bendigo Advertiser Gala Parade and the Australian Street Rod Federation Nationals.
Accommodation throughout the region was also almost booked out.
“From our point of view it was really busy and the city’s accommodation was at a premium on Saturday night,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“Maldon, Castlemaine and Heathcote were pretty full too. We were sending people further afield for accommodation.”
Ms Mackenzie estimated the crowds that filled Bendigo at the weekend were bigger than previous years.
“It was thousands. It definitely felt bigger for me. There were walls of people along the streets for the parade,” she said.
“When I was walking to work on Tuesday, retailers I spoke to said they had good weekends as well.
“The weather bought out people but there was also Rosalind Park, House of Mirrors and other events that attracted a lot of people.”
Ms Mackenzie said it was the wide range of events that attracted bigger crowds than usual.
“It was a combination of the city bringing in key events as well as the Easter audience,” she said.
“The event team had some high profile events in to town that attracted audiences. The hot rods brought a big audience in and the hot rodders were in the city on Monday looking at other events.”
The council’s marketing campaign also targeted a wide range of groups.
“We marketed extensively to the Chinese and multicultural audiences and certainly advertised in Melbourne,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“There were also large numbers of people returning home to Bendigo for Easter. It was just one contributing factor.”
Undoubtedly, the star of the Easter festival was Sun Loong performing solo for the last time.
“The locals were certainly waiting for Sun Loong. He is such a draw card,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“Next year may be his last year with the new dragon taking over.”