THREE decades after it was originally mooted by future Premier John Brumby, the state government has for the first time committed to backing the Goldfields region's bid for a UNESCO World Heritage listing.
The state government will provide $50,000 for the development of a sustainable tourism toolkit which is aimed to help identify gaps across the region as part of the bid.
The consortium of 12 councils and shires alongside the Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive, will use the funds to conduct community and industry engagement across the region as well as bring in expert advice on the bidding process.
YOU READ IT FIRST HERE: World Heritage listing could be the key to returning tourists to the Goldfields region
Bendigo Mayor Margaret O'Rourke said the findings would be "very helpful in ensuring our region is ready for a World Heritage Listing".
"We want to ensure the benefits of the sought-after listing are shared and this work will help to attract future funding to equip communities throughout the Goldfields to welcome visitors and grow a strong regional economy," Cr O'Rourke said.
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said it was a opportunity worth supporting.
"We know how significant World Heritage Listing is to tourism, to jobs and local economies and by us providing $50,000 will support the research to make sure we put our very best foot forward, is something I'm very proud of," she said.
"This funding supports the campaign for World Heritage Listing of the Victorian Goldfields. If successful, the listing will bring significant social and economic benefits to our region by creating tourism opportunities and local jobs."
Cr Samantha McIntosh, who has long backed the plan, said the City of Ballarat had been a strong voice in pulling the 12 municipalities together to work as one on the global bid.
This is a project that has been worked on for up to three decades," she said. "I'm very proud our council over the past two years has had a significant impact in taking a big leap forward."
The Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive (VGTE) chair Chris Meddows-Taylor said "World Heritage listing for the Central Victorian Goldfields will be transformative, bringing massive benefits to the region in addition to the significant economic benefits to the visitor economy".
"Obviously a real priority is helping industry recover from the impact of Covid19 and this project will really help us to do that by making people aware how special the central Victorian Goldfields are and encouraging them to visit when they are able to travel safely" he said.
Golden Plains Shire mayor Owen Sharkey said the listing needed to be a priority.
"Our unique history of the gold rush and how it shaped our towns and communities is a special story we want to share with the world," he said.
"To join the World Heritage List would be a remarkable achievement and today's announcement is an exciting step forward."
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.