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Opening doors to Horsham and Wimmera growth

By Jessica Grimble 

Booming visitation across the Wimmera, Mallee and Grampians demonstrates the art of possibility and opens the door to sell the region’s lifestyle and tourism opportunities, regional leaders say. 

Horsham Rural City mayor Robyn Gulline said the weekend’s population swell demonstrated Horsham’s importance as a regional city, while Grampians Tourism chairman David Jochinke and West Vic Business chairman Mark Clyne agreed attracting people attending major events to eventually relocate to the region was a plausible outcome – beyond the inevitable economic injection. 

Their comments come after more than 1000 young basketballers played in the three-day Horsham Junior Classic tournament at stadiums in Horsham, Warracknabeal and Dimboola. 

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Several hundred athletes and their families also attended an invitational competition at Natimuk and District Gymnastic Club, while people of all ages supported Joel, Jarrod and Tom Berry and their mates Ben Lakin and Will Robertson in their ‘Marathon for Mum’ breast cancer fundraising campaign. 

Other major events included the Dimboola Regatta, Ararat Cup and Blue Ribbon Foundation Horsham branch Commissioner’s gala event. 

It came after many residents and visitors embraced a long weekend leading into last week’s Melbourne Cup, and ahead of the 28th annual Volleyball Horsham tournament with its record-breaking registrations and annual Richard Morris Showcase in Horsham this weekend. 

Accommodation and hospitality bookings have been highly sought-after amid the influx of visitors. 

Cr Gulline’s diary was full, reflecting the busyness of the weekend’s events. 

“It was wonderful to see so many visitors in Horsham over the weekend, supporting a wide range of activities,” she said.

“Seeing all accommodations full demonstrates our importance as a regional city.” 

Mr Jochinke said while the weekend’s events attracted many people for a specific purpose, a positive experience would increase the chances of a returned visit to enjoy a ‘great family getaway’ offering a range of accommodation, food and attraction options. 

Mr Jochinke said the tourism body was contributing to policy-change advocacy to make it easier for businesses to open their doors to meet the demand and expectations of residents and visitors. 

“We need to put our best foot forward and capitalise, noting there are a lot of businesses struggling with workforce shortages. The volume of accommodation, for example, across such weekends can stress us to the max,” he said. 

“We encourage businesses to reach out and share their experiences – did your event need more accommodation or food, or are there ways we can co-ordinate ourselves to make events even more successful in the future?” 

Mr Jochinke said attracting families to relocate to the region after a positive visitor experience was a plausible outcome. 

“We know the region has to grow in population if we want to thrive; if we want to have doctors and good schools,” he said. 

“These weekends demonstrate the art of possibility – how infrastructure and liveability can be enhanced and people can consider us a destination to raise a family or pursue a career, locally or remotely, and fall in love with the region, as we all love the region.” 

Mr Clyne said the weekend also demonstrated the importance of modern, fit-for-purpose infrastructure to host large-scale tournaments and events. 

He said considerable work occurred ‘behind the scenes’, such as Horsham council’s outdoor staff preparing parks and gardens and conducting clean-ups, to ensure public areas were neat, tidy and presentable for residents and visitors. 

Mr Clyne said the region’s relaxed lifestyle was a unique ‘selling’ point that could attract people to relocate. 

“As people drive around and go to different locations, we’re always on show,” he said. 

“We need the facilities to bring in tournaments and events that also feed back into accommodation, tourism, hospitality and showcase the towns themselves. 

“The more people who come to town, the more chance we have of attracting new people to the region.”  

The entire November 15, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!