The prospect of a return to pre-pandemic coach numbers along the Great Ocean Road is not what the local tourism body for the famous roadway says is desirable.
China is restoring Australia to its group tour destination list after dropping us during COVID, news celebrated by peak tourism bodies in Australia.
Chinese tourists make their way to the coast in big numbers, of the more than 675,600 that made their way to Victoria in 2019, 45 per cent headed to region.
General Manager of Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Liz Price says the issue with many of these visits is that they’re often done in a day, meaning little local spend for the towns and businesses along the way.
“Pre-covid the volume of visitors coming down the road wasn’t really at a sustainable level,” she said.
“We don’t necessarily want to see a return.”
Victoria’s Tourism Minister was in the region last week and said he was sympathetic to local concerns about tour buses dominating visitor numbers.
“We need to do more in my view to incentivise people to stay longer so we don’t just have this four hour drive up and four drive back to Melbourne,” he said.
He’s less concerned about the volume of numbers heading to the coast, rather the “meaningfulness of it.”
“Does it engage local industry, does it actually engage local residents in a meaningful way economically, culturally and in protecting natural assets.”
Ms Price suggests there needs to be a more formal plan in place to limit numbers.
“I still do think we’ll need to put visitor management practices in place to make sure we don’t return to those volumes of visitors on coaches,” she said.
Mr Dimipolous said he was returning to the region in coming weeks, where he’ll continue to engage with the local industry over the issue.
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