MICK Walsh has an idea to grow summer tourism in Wagga: give all the campers free VB.
“That will certainly get people here,” Mr Walsh, of Warragul in Victoria, said. “I couldn’t think of anything better than to sit by the river with a cold one – and if they’re free, even better.”
Mr Walsh’s tongue-in-cheek quip is unlikely to generate political support, but the tourist is resolute when he says the Murrumbidgee River is Wagga’s biggest visitor asset.
“It’s why we came here,” he said.
“Wagga is not as hectic as the coast at this time of the year, and you can just sit back and rendezvous around the river.
“It’s got a real country feel.”
The southerners have made the pilgrimage to Wagga for the past two years, both times staying at the Wagga Beach Caravan Park.
The park – which is set to be relocated in 2019 as part of the riverside redevelopment – is again teeming with visitors this summer.
But it comes at a time when the city’s hotels grapple to get visitors through the door at a traditionally quiet time of year.
It’s a concern Riverina Regional Tourism has attempted to rectify in recent years through various campaigns, but the region consistently goes into battle with “established” summer markets such as the South Coast.
Best Western Charles Sturt Suites and Apartments general manager Jamie Pascoe said the summer hiatus was traditionally when the city’s hotels completed maintenance work and other housekeeping activities.
Mr Pascoe pointed to the decline in the number of events over the festive season and the hot weather as a deterrent to visitation.
However, he welcomed changes to Boxing Day trading legislation, which for the first time allowed Wagga retailers to open their doors.
“It was really good to see that,” Mr Pascoe said.
“It’s pretty quiet this time of year, and that has a lot to do with the wind down in events and other things. If we could create more opportunities at this time of year, like we have with the New Year’s Eve event (Wagga Live), that might get more people here.”
Lawson Motor Inn owner Geoff Kidd, a former head of the city’s tourism board, agreed and said events were the lifeblood of Wagga tourism.
“I’ve always been a strong supporter of events and have said we need to work harder to attract more,” he said.
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