It’s set to be another big weekend for visitors to the Bendigo area.
First up, the Blues and Roots festival kicked off on Thursday for a four-day run, with 155 artists in more than 50 venues around the city. That will spread to Heathcote for a fringe event on Sunday.
Then there will be a day of solemn remembrance for those who have served and fallen in the service of our country on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Poppies will be worn and marches will take place, Lest We Forget.
The events will again swell the city’s numbers – adding to the tourism growth which has brought people and dollars to the area.
New figures from Tourism Research Australia’s domestic visitor survey showed that the Bendigo Loddon region had nearly 4 million domestic visitors in the year ending June 30. An international visitor survey by the same group found overseas visitors jumped by 51 per cent and the numbers taking in the sights rose by 5000 to 24,000 in the same period. In total, our overseas admirers spent $18 million in that time.
It’s easy to see why the area is drawing in more visitors. There is, literally, something for everybody. Gold-era history, wineries on the doorstop, beautiful architecture and buildings, a growing foodie culture, Bendigo Cup. Within an an hour or so’s drive there are the delights of arty Castlemaine, the spa country around Daylesford, the wineries of Heathcote, the charms of Bridgewater and the great Murray River, including the inland port of Echuca.
It’s a great spot to base yourself for a visit – be it a few days or a few weeks. The figures reflect this. Bendigo has done well to keep the festivals rolling in and new events supported (such as the Bendigo Autumn Music Festival). Venues like the Bendigo Art Gallery are forging new ground for tourism. A bid by the area to be recognised for its gastronomy by UNESCO puts it, ever more firmly, in the international spotlight.
Overseas visitors are still a fraction of the overall numbers, but there is room for strong growth. The more we get the word out, the more those who have landed Down Under with wheels and a sense of adventure are likely to head our way. So spread the word.
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