VISITORS flooded western Victoria’s Glenelg Shire for a “selfie with a kelpie” as tourism numbers grew by more than 9pc for the spring quarter.
Casterton’s new Australian Kelpie Centre led the growth of almost double 2017 figures with 4193 visitors through the door from September to November.
Overall, 21,506 visitors were registered across the shire’s three visitor information centres, recording an increase of 9.2pc on the previous year’s spring quarter.
Of this, 2223 were foreign visitors, largely from European markets led by the United Kingdom, Germany and Netherlands.
Glenelg Shire Mayor Anita Rank said council’s kelpie promotional campaign had paid significant dividends in boosting tourist trade for the shire.
“Our visitor staff have been inundated with visitors from across the country wanting to experience this unique new tourism offering,” she said.
“The selfie with a kelpie campaign added a new fun element to the campaign with locals and visitors alike joining the craze.
“The visitor growth has been significant and staff have been forced to order extra brochures and souvenirs to ensure the visitor requests are met.”
Cr Rank believes the strong numbers infiltrate into the local community.
“Visitors will explore the authentic country experience by venturing to local stores, cafes, hotels and restaurants.”
Portland remained the shire’s busiest centre for the season with 12,870 visitors – a slight decrease of 240 from 2017.
Despite the high result of 1551 international visitors, the number was down by 24pc compared to the previous spring season.
Nelson recorded an 8pc increase in visitors with 4443 attracted to the Leake Street centre, including 561 internationals.
This growth was translated at a state level, with the visitor economy now the number three export earner for Victoria.
The shire is now valued at more than $5b and employs 220,000 people.
Cr Rank said the council was confident in visitor number growth during the busy summer season, further supporting local businesses and trade.
“Council is gearing up for a busy events season with the return of our popular New Year’s Eve and Hooked on Portland celebrations, another two cruise ships and a pop-up cinema hitting the road,” Cr Rank said.