Of course, our natural and developed attractions that usually bring visitors from far and wide didn’t go away during lockdown – they were just hard to reach – but the good news is that now we’re open for business again, we’re welcoming back our valued as well as a range of new visitors.
The benefits of that recovery are huge. Our Visit Albury Wodonga (VAW) team has collated data showing that tourism contributes more than $1B to the Albury Wodonga economy and that it creates 2,565 jobs which not only supports local families but also underpins some of the social strengths that makes our cross-border community such a great place to live, work and invest.
To support our visitor economy, the team has been busy over recent months laying a solid foundation for tourism recovery by developing a wide range of media and social media coverage promoting our region and its people.
Earlier this month, VAW launched a partnership with online lifestyle brand Sitchu, for a four-week digital and social campaign that will market Albury Wodonga to a monthly audience of at least one million people.
Recognising that tourism patterns have temporarily changed, with more people travelling closer to home, we also ran a high-profile television and digital campaign over December and January, targeting visitors from regional NSW and Victoria, while we were very happy to get great coverage in a Murray River feature that ran in Traveller magazine, which reaches up to 2.1 million people through the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.
We’re also reaching out to potential visitors through a range of other channels, including partnerships and promotions that highlight our region’s attractions.
It’s important that we continue to develop and improve our offer to visitors, which is why we’re excited to be moving ahead with the development of our new Riverside Precinct which will become one of our centrepiece attractions for locals and visitors.
Construction work will begin this year on the precinct’s focal point – a floating dock and boardwalks near the Albury Swim Centre, while we’ll soon enter the final stages in the construction of the Wagirra Trail extension, which will open up 12 kilometres of new trail through beautiful riverside country on the city’s western edge.
The trail extension will be a huge drawcard for cyclists, walkers, nature lovers and bird watchers, and we’re very excited about being able to welcome them back when the work is completed later this year.
We’re also looking forward to welcoming back conferences, events and festivals to our city. Our premier arts and culture festival – Upstream – which we run in conjunction with our Two Cities One Community partner, Wodonga Council, is one example of how headline events will help to drive tourism growth across both cities.
While these developments and events are just what the sector needs to bounce back from the troubled times of 2020, all of us can do our part on a small scale.
We can all make a difference to our local hospitality and tourism businesses, whether through buying a coffee and cake, or having a full-scale ‘stay-cation’ within sight of home. By supporting these locally-owned businesses, you’ll not only get great goods and services, you’ll also ensure that your money stays in the local economy - which is good for us all.
We can all be tourism ambassadors, too. Now’s a great time us to promote and support our tourism sector. We’re about to enjoy one of the nicest times of year – the sunny days and crisp nights of autumn – and that’s a perfect time to visit our region, especially for those who want to explore our rivers, lakes and countryside.
So, if you have friends and family (from COVID-safe communities) who are looking for a break, why not invite them to visit Albury and surrounds? You’ll get to catch up with loved-ones, your visitors will have a great time, and together you’ll have helped your community further along the road to recovery.