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    Grampians Wimmera Mallee Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman.

Tourism 'game changer' in the Wimmera Mallee


Four accommodation developments to be built at Ararat, Horsham, Halls Gap and Mt Langi Ghiran are set to provide a major boost to the region’s economy.

Developer Australian Tourism Group, ATG, has outlined plans to open the Ararat and Horsham hotels within two years.

ATG unveiled plans for a new 4.5-star hotel and conference centre at Ararat and a luxury resort at Mt Langi Ghiran at a business breakfast in Ararat on Wednesday last week, with further details about the four developments detailed at a Grampians Wimmera Mallee Tourism, formerly Grampians Tourism, industry event at Horsham on Thursday. 

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The Horsham accommodation will be built beside Horsham Golf Course – replacing Horsham Fairways Resort, which has been abandoned for the past 15 years.

Grampians Wimmera Mallee Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said ATG initially looked at establishing only one development in the region, but saw the opportunity for further investment. 

“We’ve available land, an amazing growing visitor economy, we’re in the top three in the state for visitor expenditure after COVID and there is a shortfall of supply – we don’t have any major new accommodation being built at the moment,” he said.

Mr Sleeman said Grampians Tourism’s investment prospectus in 2023 detailed visitor demand would outstrip the supply of accommodation by 2026.

“We identified then we had two years to fix the supply issue for our region and we’ve been actively working with both state and local government to attract private investment into the region,” he said.

“We need to make sure any development that comes to the region is done sustainably and is sensitive to the impacts on nature. ATG tick all of those boxes. This is one of the largest single investments in tourism outside of Ballarat, so it’s a game-changing investment.

“ATG is also investing in worker accommodation, which is critical. What I love about the development and their proposal is their focus on training and educating people. 

“They also understand this is an opportunity to raise the profile of a career in tourism.”

Mr Sleeman said ATG was in talks with major accommodation chains to operate the hotels.

“We’re going to be bringing the best of the best to run this accommodation,” he said. 

“ATG has plans for other developments, which is also as exciting as the four launched last week.”

Mr Sleeman said ATG was a community and family-minded company, with directors living in regional Victoria.

“This isn’t the only company either – there are others lining up. We’ve other investors just as hot, who haven’t put planning applications in but it’s going to be an exciting few years in the Grampians,” he said.

“There are another 20 tourism projects requesting letters of support from me for planning and development proposals – it’s really exciting.”

“In seven years in the role, I’ve seen nothing like what I’ve seen in the past 12 months in terms of product growth and development. It’s a great time to be in tourism,” Mr Sleeman said.

“The state and federal government has also invested about $80 million in public infrastructure in our region. 

“They want to position this region as a leading nature-based destination in Victoria and with that investment, investors start looking at the key triggers and that’s helped in attracting this further private investment.”

Mr Sleeman said the Mt Langi Ghiran development was set to be the first of its kind in Australia and service a high-end, luxury market.

“That’s a big missing gap in our destination – that high-end, luxury experience,” he said.

The high-quality hotel in Ararat, located near the train station, will offer not only accommodation but also serve as a hub for business events and conferences. ATG’s Niraj Singh and Adam Butera detailed the investments at a networking business breakfast, which brought together 70 business owners and operators from the Grampians region.

Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Tim Harrison said attendees were excited by the potential economic benefits the hotel venture would provide, positioning Ararat as a destination with new-found potential.

“This strategic investment has the capacity to boost visitation, inject dollars via increased spend into the local economy, not to mention employment opportunities, positioning Ararat not only as the ‘Gateway to the Grampians’ region but also becoming an attractive destination for both business and leisure travellers alike,” he said.

“The announcement of the hotel and conferencing facility signals a promising future for not only Ararat but the broader Grampians region.”


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