MORE international tourists visited the Mornington Peninsula over summer than last season with a large percentage using the region as a “gateway” to Phillip Island and the Great Ocean Road.
Peninsula tourism operators reported that visitors spent between 10-20 per cent more, and more bookings were made in advance.
These and other trends were reported to shire councillors last week by the shire’s communications manager Todd Trimble in his annual “summer report”.
“Tourists complained less, perhaps due to improvement in quality of services and products,” he said.
The increase in international visitors came particularly from Asian markets.
Statistics on the number of daytrippers scooting down Peninsula Link freeway have not yet been compiled.
There were more accommodation bookings coming via popular online channels such as wotif and bookings.com, and the average accommodation spend per night increased from $230 to $247.
The number of tourism website “page views” was up 15 per cent.
As up to 75,000 people “migrated” to the peninsula and its coast during December and January – boosting the population from 150,000 to as high as 225,000 – the shire collected almost 800,000 domestic garbage bins and more than 405,000 domestic recycling bins.
This represented 6378 tonnes of garbage and 4823 tonnes of recycled items.
The municipality’s foreshore camping sites were 100 per cent occupied by about 6000 people at a time, with the total number of campers topping 100,000 for the first time.
“The campers have really acknowledged and appreciated all the enhancements to facilities, cleaning and operations,” Mr Trimble said.
“The 2014-15 peak has been a huge success, with maintenance, cleaning and general issues substantially down.”
Mr Trimble said the shire’s water leak detection program using 13 monitoring devices in various foreshore buildings had saved water and “reduced associated costs”.
“Previously, leaks were only able to be detected when the quarterly water use reports were received. This meant a leak could be wasting water for months before it was detected and fixed.”
About 1000 campers attended a camping safety awareness night run with Victoria Police, CFA and SES, and it was a success, he said.
The controversial food van park at Rye had now gone to the state planning tribunal, which would “adjudicate on both the use of the land and the fixtures on the land”.
Mr Trimble said the shire’s aged and disability services unit had been busy before and after Christmas with community care workers providing 21,011 hours of service to 4056 clients. Meals on Wheels volunteers had delivered 2837 meals. More than 300 seniors were served Christmas lunch at gatherings in Hastings, Rosebud and Mornington, supported by volunteers, organisations and peninsula businesses.
The shire’s libraries were busy, with information queries up seven per cent, “eResource” loans up 147 per cent, computer sessions up 6.5 per cent and WiFi use up 38 per cent.
Mornington and Rosebud libraries had more than 1000 people each on many days. More than 1600 children registered for the summer reading club.