Greater Bendigo has dominated the 2023 Victorian Tourism Awards, winning three golds and entry into the Hall of Fame for Bendigo Visitor Centre at a ceremony in Melbourne last night.
The Victorian Tourism Awards are organised by the Victorian Tourism Industry Council to acknowledge leaders in tourism excellence from across the state.
Bendigo Visitor Centre has earned a place in the Hall of Fame after winning its third gold in a row in the Visitor Information Services category. The centre won the top accolade for its consistent, high quality customer service and face-to-face interaction with visitors.
The Bendigo Ring Cycle Festival scooped gold in the Events and Festivals category. The 37-day festival was presented by Bendigo Venues & Events in partnership with Melbourne Opera last March to complement the staging of Richard Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle opera blockbuster at Ulumbarra Theatre.
The festival showcased 30 Wagner-themed events across the city, including a concert 60 metres underground at the Central Deborah Goldmine, a 'behind the scenes' gala dinner on the stage at Ulumbarra, performances at Langley Estate, opera talks, masterclass sessions and much more.
The festival program was developed to entice visitors to remain in the Greater Bendigo region between performances, and this supported accommodation operators, hospitality and retail businesses, and local attractions.
In just five weeks, the Ring Cycle and the complementary events program contributed $4.36M to the local Bendigo economy and made a $7.22M economic impact across Victoria. This is the first time the City’s Bendigo Venues & Events unit has entered the Victorian Tourism Awards.
The City also won gold in the Local Government Award for Tourism category. It is the fourth year in a row for the City to reach the finals, having won two golds and a silver in the last three annual awards.
The award recognises excellence in tourism planning, the provision of tourism facilities and services, marketing, event development and management, and the overall contribution made to the tourism industry at a local and state level.
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said it was wonderful to see Greater Bendigo winning awards in highly competitive categories.
"I am so proud that Greater Bendigo has won so many prestigious tourism awards in recognition of the work over the past year," Cr Metcalf said.
"The Ring Cycle festival program was an incredible feat, which produced clever and creative experiences that kept opera fans here for longer, staying in accommodation, shopping and dining out.
"The Bendigo Visitor Centre’s exceptional customer service has been acknowledged in helping tourists who visit or plan to come to the region. Congratulations to all the staff and volunteers on the gold award and your prestigious spot in the Victorian Tourism Award’s Hall of Fame. This is an amazing achievement.
"Our success at the awards is attributed to a huge collective effort, which has firmly established Bendigo’s reputation as a top tourist destination that continues to grow nationally and internationally.
"I would like to thank our City staff, our committed local tourism operators, retail, accommodation and hospitality providers that offer outstanding service and experiences for visitors.
"It is a wonderful outcome to win top awards at the state level and be endorsed as leaders in promoting excellence in tourism."
The City would also like to congratulate Bendigo Tourism members and City partners who were recognised for their contribution to tourism over the past year.
Balgownie Estate won gold in the Unique Accommodation category for its luxury glamping accommodation and the BIG4 Bendigo Marong Holiday Park won bronze.
The popular Lost Trades Fair Bendigo was a finalist in the Festivals and Events category, as was Rambling Wines Tours in the Tour and Transport Operators category.
The City also congratulates Byronsvale Vineyard and Accommodation Bendigo, which won bronze in the Self Contained Accommodation category.
The winners in each category (apart from the Local Government category) will now compete with other states and territories for a chance to be recognised as the best in the country at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards next year.