ALMOST 2.4 million people visited Greater Bendigo last year, according to data provided by Tourism Research Australia.
Most domestic visitors – 1,658,000 people – made day trips. A total of 688,000 domestic visitors stayed at least a night in the city.
Greater Bendigo also saw 14,000 international tourists, who spent a combined 164,000 nights in the municipality.
The villa’s owner, Paul Banks, intends to lodge plans with Heritage Victoria and the City of Greater Bendigo to build a five-star hotel and conference centre at the site.
Mr Banks envisages benefits to not only Fortuna Villa, but to the city.
“The most amazing element to our design is we don’t touch any existing structures apart from exposing what was once in existence during George Lansell's era,” he told the Bendigo Advertiser.
The principle of ‘adaptive reuse’, evident in the plans for the proposed Fortuna Villa Hotel, is already evident in Bendigo.
Former banks and general stores have been transformed into eateries; tram carts have taken on new lives as dining venues; what was once a religious gathering place is now home to a community garden and kitchen (among things); and shafts where miners once toiled are now frequented by tourists.
Some of the region’s – and the world’s – most talented performers have graced the stage of a venue that was once the exclusive domain of prisoners.
Bendigo has long been home to innovation, and there’s scope for plenty more yet.
Whether or not the proposal Mr Banks intends to put forward will come to fruition remains to be seen.
“They will either embrace it, or witness its demise,” he said of Heritage Victoria and the Bendigo council.
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