More domestic visitors, but less international visitors found their way to Shepparton last year.
The Shepparton area welcomed about 1.2million domestic visitors to the city last year, marking a 28 per cent jump on 2016 visitation figures.
But 40 per cent less international overnight visitors arrived in the region, spending almost 50 per cent fewer nights in the area than in 2016.
The city also attracted just over a 2.5 per cent market share of visitors to regional Victoria across the 12 months.
Meanwhile, nine in every 10 tourists to the area are driving to the region, with Greater Shepparton City Council suggesting the lack of a regular rail service could be holding back additional visitors to the city.
The Tourism Research Australia’s national visitor survey found Shepparton’s domestic overnight visitors rose 65 per cent to 418000 for 2017.
These visitors spent an estimated $103million in the region, an average of $111 a night.
Visiting friends and family remained the most popular reason for visiting, while more than half of domestic overnight visitors stayed at the properties of friends or family.
More than 91 per cent of these visitors arrived by a car and almost 90 per cent of the visitors were from elsewhere in Victoria.
The average length of a domestic visitor stay was 2.2 nights, down slightly on 2016.
Visitors from New Zealand, United States and United Kingdom made up more than a third of the international visitors to the region, with more than 40 per cent in the 25 to 34 age group.
Domestic day trips increased 16 per cent to 804000 for the year, according to the data, with the 65 and over age group the highest demographic, each spending an average $90 in the region.
The Council’s Anthony Nicolaci described the figures as a ‘‘really good result’’ for the city, citing the ‘‘pretty significant increase’’ in domestic visitors during the past 24 months.
Mr Nicolaci said the hospitality sector was still one of the big winners from the visitation stats.
Moving forward, he identified boosting family visitation and developing the business tourism space as priorities.
‘‘A key area that we can really target over next 12 months is around the visiting friends and family market.
‘‘A large number are coming to visit family and friends, but how we can extend their length of stay, and get them to come back more often?’’
The prevalence of visitors arriving by car highlighted the need for more daily trains services to Shepparton, Mr Nicolaci said.
‘‘It’s another point to say, Greater Shepparton needs more daily services to the region so we can expand visitation.
‘‘There’s definitely opportunity for growth over the next couple of years as our advocacy continues,’’ he said.