WITH international borders still shut, and states fighting for a greater slice of domestic travel, Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine have teamed up with Cats star Zach Tuohy to attract visitors to the region.
The campaign comes as the Victorian Government launches a new $633 million strategy to help revitalise Victorian tourism and follows an announcement from Qantas that domestic travel is now at 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
In what is being seen as a further good omen, the campaign was launched during Saturday night’s footy game where Geelong destroyed the West Coast Eagles with a 97-point victory.
Tourism Greater Geelong & The Bellarine marketing manager Tracy Carter said visiting friends and relatives was a really significant market for the region.
“We like to say the most important tourist attraction in Geelong is the people who live here,” Ms Carter said.
“That’s because 50 per cent of visitors who come to the region say that one of the things that they do is visit friends and family.”
Tuohy is originally from Ireland and his friends and family were planning to come and visit him but couldn’t because of COVID.
Dubbed the ‘Tuohy-rism’ campaign, the campaign follows Tuohy’s travels around the region to all the great places he would have liked to take his family.
Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine aims to tap into that sentiment in a fun way, by encouraging audiences and Cats fans to have friends and family visit them.
“And make sure when they do, they are not just spending time on the couch but actually going out and having experiences,” Ms Carter said.
After a bustling summer and Easter, Geelong, the Surf Coast and the Bellarine are now competing with the rest of the country for off-peak visitors.
“It was a very busy summer and Easter and the challenge now will be heading into what is our off-peak season anyway,” Ms Carter said.
“Leisure visitors come in on weekends and that will continue.
“What would usually fill accommodation in the winter season are things like business travel and conferences and they not quite firing on all cylinders yet.”
Last week, Visit Victoria held a state tourism conference that Tourism Geelong and Bellarine members attended in force.
The two-day conference welcomed more than 800 industry professionals, and many operators from Geelong and The Bellarine were in attendance.
“They were able to spend a couple of days working on their business and looking at big picture things, learning from experts and industry leaders. It was a great couple of days,” Ms Carter said.
“We have some challenges ahead but likewise we also have some strategies in terms of marketing campaigns and initiatives to try and attract some of that business event travel to address the seasonality issue we always have but is likely to be exacerbated post-COVID.”