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MEDIA RELEASE - Casterton leads shire visitation growth

6 June 2019

Casterton’s profile as Australia’s Kelpie capital has assisted to more than double Autumn visitation figures, according to the latest statistics.

The Australian Kelpie Centre attracted 3760 visitors during the past quarter, an increase of 51 per cent on 2018 figures.

The centre recorded the biggest growth of the period across the shire’s three visitor information centres which recorded more than 23,600 visitors – a decrease of three per cent on last year.

Portland remained the shire’s busiest visitor information centre with 15,207 visitors, down eight per cent on 2018 data whilst Nelson recorded 4669 visitors, down 10 per cent.

International visitation also matched the trend, averaging a 14 per cent decline across the three centres at Portland, Nelson and Casterton.

Mayor Cr Anita Rank said the declining data was not alarming, noting it was merely a reflection of the early autumn rains, which had detracted some visitors from exploring the shire’s wealth of nature-based attractions.

She also noted visitors were relying more readily on digital mediums to plan their itineraries, using the council tourism website as a base to research their journey.

“Of most interest in this data is the fact visitors have migrated to Casterton in what is historically one of its slower seasons. Our summer and autumn data normally illustrates a greater migration to our coastal townships, however this year the data was flipped with the Kelpie town recording the strongest growth,” she said.

“This is a rewarding result for the township on the eve of its annual Australian Kelpie Muster when more than 10,000 people will stopover to see this iconic regional celebration.

“Furthermore, the tourism growth is being matched in a thriving CBD retail space which is at almost full occupancy, the highest levels seen in decades. There are new cafes and art spaces filling the heritage buildings acting as another lure to attract inquisitive travellers.”

In readiness for the Australian Kelpie Festival influx council has launched a new social media platform, a Casterton Instagram page titled iamcasterton.

Cr Rank said this social channel would act as another medium for people to engage with the township.

“Iamcasterton acts as another tool to assist people to learn more about local attractions, places and people which we trust will encourage people to stay and explore a little longer.

“This branding is a further illustration of the shire’s connection to the Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism brand, which encourages more than 2.1 million travellers annually,” she said.

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