It is great news that Qantas will be expanding its services in the Bendigo region later this year.
The direct link has taken hours off travelling time for Bendigonians. The road or rail journey to Melbourne and back to catch onward flights previously added upwards of four hours of travel.
The weekend services have opened up new tourism opportunities for this great city. For domestic travellers, there is the chance to pop to Bendigo and see what it has to offer. For international travellers, with limited time but potential spending power, a direct flight puts a side-trip to the city well within their reach.
And there is much for them to see here - culture and music festivals to rival our metropolitan counterparts, outdoor adventures nearby, cafes and restaurants that are putting us on the map. The kind of tourism that has a flow-on effect for the whole of central Victoria. People may visit Bendigo on their first visit, but later expand that to Castlemaine and Daylesford or up to the Murray River. With so many options, one visit can become many.
For business people time is money. A flight to Sydney is now a quick cab ride (or drop off) away, presenting direct opportunities for links with the economy of Australia's biggest city.
Use of the Qantas route is growing - the new flights are evidence of that. Routes, to perhaps Adelaide and Brisbane, while not currently in the pipeline, could be future options.
The new flights give extra weight to council's calls for $4.4 million in funding for a new terminal building, with a refreshed Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund following the State Budget one potential source.
Another is to lobby the incoming Coalition government for the money. No funding promises for Bendigo projects were made by the Liberals during the election campaign and, traditionally, promises made are the first to be honoured. That should not stop Bendigo, as a thriving, growing city, being front and centre when funding is being allocated.
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