BENDIGO has experienced a major boom in the number of tourists visiting the city, with numbers surging almost 66 per cent in the past decade.

Tourism Research Australia data obtained by the Bendigo Weekly shows more than 3.9 million domestic and international travellers visited Bendigo last year, an increase of about 1.5m from a decade ago.

The data also shows almost 2.5m domestic tourist nights were spent in Bendigo last financial year, compared to just over a million 10 years ago, an improvement of more than 130 per cent in a decade.

The 2.8m domestic day trips was up 75.2 per cent from the year ending June 30, 2008, while international overnight visitation was 84,900.

And in a further positive boost for the local tourism industry, the number of overnight visitors has grown by 30.8 per cent over the past 12 months, and by seven per cent for day trips.

City of Greater Bendigo Tourism and Major Events manager Terry Karamaloudis said the organisation and its partners were extremely proud of the results.

“This is the result of a lot of work over a long period of time by a lot of people,” he said.

“Not one individual or organisation is solely responsible for this result.”

Mr Karamaloudis said the collaborative effort involved council and tourism operators and organisations from across the region.

Industry operators said the dramatic increase in visitations reflected the continual improvement in what Bendigo and the surrounding regions had to offer, with food and wine, the arts, cycling related tourism, heritage attractions and a busy major events calendar all helping lift the number of people attracted to Bendigo annually.

The Tourism Research Australia data also shows there was approximately 2.9 million visitors to Ballarat last year, an increase of 33.1 per cent on year ending June 2009.

Confirming regional Victoria’s strength as a cultural and food and wine destination, state government data shows there were more than 4.2 million visitors who enjoyed a food and wine experience during their stay in Victoria in the year ending March 2018.

Of these, regional Victoria received 50.1 million visitors who spent $9.7 billion.

International cultural visitors injected almost $2 billion into the state economy last year, an 88 per cent increase since 2013, with China is the state’s biggest and fastest growing international market for cultural tourism, expected to be worth more than $1 billion alone by 2025.

– Peter Kennedy