TOURISM and business operators from the Mornington Peninsula got together at the “explore connections” event in Rye last Tuesday (8 August) to talk about tourism following one of the worst winters even seen on the peninsula.
But the vibe was positive, and the focus was clearly on the future and shining the light on the many industry developments and opportunities in the region.
Spokesperson for the not-for-profit Sorrento Beachside Tourism group Kera Zaltsberg said there was a lot of positive energy and sharing of “big plans” at the meeting for the southern peninsula.
“Winter hasn’t been a great time for tourism businesses, with cost-of-living pressures and people starting to travel further now that travel restrictions are over, but we heard about so many good things that are happening and the opportunities for business in such a great region,” she said.
According to the Victorian Business Association, tourism income across the state is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels but is inching upwards. Total tourism expenditure in Victoria was $35 billion in the year ending March 2023, up 113 per cent compared to the previous year.
Zaltsberg said the peninsula’s greatest asset – apart from beaches and the natural environment – was the wide range of small, medium and large businesses that offered a well-rounded experience for visitors.
Some of the projects for the peninsula included the revamp of The Continental Sorrento and the planned revamp of the Rye Hotel, which was recently sold to the Endeavour Group for an undisclosed price believed to be as much as $50 million.
The hotel, which was owned by the Houghton family for the past 50 years, is on 1.4 hectares and opposite beach, and includes 43 accommodation suites, conference rooms, gaming, a main bar and a cocktail bar.
Other events to recently shine a light on the peninsula include Sorrento’s win in the recent Victorian Tourism Awards competition and television presenter Julia Zemiro’s visit for the Great Australian Walks program.
“I feel that with what’s going on around the peninsula it’s going to be a great summer period for this region and that’s the general mood,” Zaltsberg said.
Zaltsberg said the business association was growing, and it was hoped that increased membership would strengthen the group’s mission to support tourism and business on the peninsula.