Council transforming ways to attract visitors

REGION - Tourism business owners and operators throughout Ararat Rural City are being encouraged to attend one of a series of drop-in sessions to discuss a new online platform that will transform the way the Grampians Tourism region attracts visitors.

Rolling out in April and early May, the sessions will discuss Grampians Online - your digital future, a project that will create a brand-new one-stop website to give the potential visitor all the information and services they need to plan a trip to the Grampians - interactive maps, itinerary planners and online booking and payment.

Grampians Tourism CEO, Will Flamsteed said Grampians Online was an exciting project that would position the Grampians tourism region and its destinations at the forefront of the global marketplace.

As a result, it will increase sales and the dispersal of visitors across the region.

"Tourism marketing is a fast and competitive business and it's essential we get the right message in front of the right audience as effectively as possible," Mr Flamsteed said.

"Grampians Online will do just that, providing our potential customers with everything they need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

With 85 percent of travel consumers doing their research online, it's absolutely crucial we get our digital offering right."

Mr Flamsteed said the new platform would be a single, streamlined entry point through which the region can market its destinations and experiences and where visitors can research, book and pay in real time.

Tourism operators who take part don't need any specialist IT knowledge as the new system will do all the work.

"Grampians Online will increase visitation to our region by bridging the gap between what the 85 per cent want and what we are currently offering in the digital space," Mr Flamsteed said.

"As it's the tourism operators who will ultimately benefit, we want them to be involved right from the start so we really encourage people to come along to our drop-in sessions, have a chat, have their questions answered and provide us with feedback."

Cr Paul Hooper said the drop-in session would be held on April 30 at the Ararat and Grampians Visitor Information Centre, 91 High Street, Ararat.

Tourism business owners and operators can drop in at any time that suits them between the hours of 10am and 2pm when they will be able to chat to Grampians Tourism about the project.

"Ararat Rural City Council is really excited about the possibilities Grampians Online will bring to our local operators and the region's tourism sector as a whole," he said.

"The best part about the new website and platform is that tourism operators don't need any special technical IT knowledge - it will be a matter of keeping their existing website and social media up-to-date as usual and the system will do the rest."

Tourism operators are being contacted directly with more information about Grampians Online before the drop-in sessions but can also contact Grampians Tourism directly. Phone 5361 4017 or visit www.grampianstourism.com.au.

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