More beds needed for tourism boom

12-01-16 Gisborne Peak Winery sales co-ordinator Natalie Porter (left) and owner Barbara Nixon (right). Picture: Damjan Janevski


Tourism experts say more accommodation options and seven- day operators are needed to ensure the Macedon Ranges reap the full benefits of a visitor boom.

With annual figures released by Daylesford and Macedon Ranges Tourism revealing an 18.2 per cent increase in visitors in 2015, the tourism group’s general manager, Judith Isherwood, said there remained a shortage of beds on the eastern side of the region.

‘‘The Daylesford-Hepburn area is known statewide as one of the best offerings of good accommodation, but certainly further development on the Macedon Ranges side is going to help the region increase its reputation,’’ she said.

‘‘Similarly, weekends tend to be strong but having destinations open, whether it be shops or attractions, is also key to people coming and visiting outside of those peak times.’’

A total of 3.8 million people visited the tourism region in the 12 months to September last year. The number of nights spent in the area was 2.7 million, up 44 per cent on the previous year.

‘‘These are great figures for our tourism industry and for the region generally,’’ Ms Isherwood said.

‘‘We know that the economic contribution of tourism to this region is the second-highest of any tourism region in the state, so increasing visitor numbers coupled with increasing time spent in the region is good news for everyone.’’

Ms Isherwood said the majority of visitors continued to come from Melbourne.

‘‘Our proximity makes us an attractive destination, but what we’re finding is that people are no longer coming here just for the day,’’ she said.

‘‘More and more, they’re spending time here.’’

Gisborne Peak Winery’s Barb Nixon said the area was attracting more people than ever before.

‘‘We’ve been here 15 years, but we’re definitely seeing new faces all the time,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s so accessible now with the freeways … with many people, they’re only just discovering our area.

“There’s a bit of an exclusivity about it.’’

Ms Nixon said offerings such as Gisborne Peak’s state award-winning eco cottages were needed to ensure the Macedon Ranges didn’t miss out.

‘‘We need more beds on this side,’’ she said.

‘‘We have to get more quality accommodation and businesses and venues that are open seven days a week.

‘‘That’s a huge motivator for tourism.’’

The tourism board is putting the final touches to the second edition of its revamped visitor guide, which will be released next month.