THE Mornington Peninsula is playing a big part in Victoria’s tourism boom.
Visitors – mainly from Melbourne and other parts of the country – spent 4.8 million nights on the peninsula last year, up 20 per cent on the previous year.
Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism Board chair Tracey Cooper said the figures reflected an increase in day and overnight trips, especially in the autumn and spring shoulder seasons over the past five years.
The benefits were enhanced by the dispersal of visitors to second and third-tier attractions across the peninsula, which helped to spread the tourist dollar several ways.
The ease with which visitors can access the peninsula’s heartland on Peninsula Link, and the rise in top-tier attractions such as Jacalope and Pt Leo Estate, had helped cement the region as a tourist drawcard, she said.
Many businesses, such as Mocks Cider Orchard and Sunny Ridge strawberry farm, were adding value to their intrinsic appeal by enhancing their offerings: Mocks through dried apples and cider making, and Sunny Ridge by encouraging visitors to pick their own strawberries and buy strawberry wines and liquors.
While China is seen as a top source of visitors, more than 24 million Australian visitors came to Victoria last year making the state the “new kid on the block” in numerical terms.
Sydney attracted 27.65 million overnighters with Melbourne just behind on 27.12 million, according to Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey. The number of international visitors to the peninsula was up 3-4 per cent over the year.
Ms Cooper said the peninsula ranked third behind the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island’s penguin parade in day-trip popularity, with 16 per cent of the total. She said most visitors were holiday makers or day visitors – often visiting friends on the peninsula – or those frequenting tourism drawcards, such as Peninsula Hot Springs, the Baths Restaurant, Arthurs Seat Maze, Rain, Hayne and Shine Farmyard, Moonlit Sanctuary, camping sites, beaches and golf courses.
The series of ocean liner visits to Mornington, which attracted publicity when 1500 passengers descended onto Main Street, were really only novelty value compared to the seven million visitors the peninsula caters to each year.
“Our focus is on broadening what we have to offer and getting the word out to potential visitors,” Ms Cooper said.
“We aim to improve our seasonal management plans, such as in winter and during the week, and help small farmers add value to their products.
“This will increase the value of the tourist dollar which in turn will generate youth employment.”