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    Marc Sleeman, centre.

‘Big nature’ the key for visitors

Holiday experiences involving Australian wildlife are growing as a driving force for Europeans planning trips to the Grampians and the broader region.

Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman described the Grampians’ ‘big nature’ as a consolidating and growing attraction for international visitors.

Mr Sleeman said a message he picked up from a promotional tour of Europe was that visiting the Grampians was becoming a ‘must do’ part of the Australian big-nature travelling experience.

“The United Kingdom and European tourism market is falling in love with the Grampians,” he said.

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“And it is all about the experience on offer in wilderness areas. They are after kangaroos, wallabies, emus, echidnas and so on and being able to see and experience them in a wild environment. 

“One of my points to my travelling group when talking about the Grampians was that in the Grampians we could guarantee they would see wildlife. Others promoting other areas were saying you might see this, you might see that. I could guarantee visitors would see wildlife in the Grampians and it blew them away.”

Mr Sleeman said figures continued to show strong and resilient attraction for European travellers to the Grampians and it was this high-spending market that was presenting the most exciting of prospects for the region.

“For us this is an important area of investment as opposed to other markets,” he said.

“China is the biggest inbound tourism market into Victoria and Australia – there is no doubt – and in the Grampians this represents 10 percent of international visitors.

“But the United Kingdom and European tourist market, while smaller overall across Australia, is of significantly high value.

“While other markets are drawn to other short-term attractions, these high-value travellers like to seriously experience good food, good wine, and of course big nature. 

“Their length of stay is also considerably longer than any other market.”

A 10-year vision to attract an extra $20-million in international tourism spending in the Grampians was a primary driver in Mr Sleeman ‘spreading the word’ in Europe.

Grampians Tourism wants to double the 54,400 international visitors to the region in the next decade.

He joined a Visit Victoria Roadshow with a responsibility of promoting western Victoria’s Great Southern Touring Route, which includes the Grampians, Ballarat, Geelong-
Bellarine and Great Ocean Road tourism regions.

Mr Sleeman also applauded a call by Member for Lowan Emma Kealy to develop a hospitality-training centre or school in the region.

“From our perspective this is about understanding the needs of the travellers as well as the domestic tourism market,” he said.

“As well as providing an opportunity for someone to learn skills they can use in the region, being able to provide a good coffee, food or service experience for an international visitor is critically important.” 

The entire October 16, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!