Tourism

The plan to boost visitor economy

Amy Bryant

Thirty-three percent of all visitors to Australia visit a historic/heritage building, site or monument, according to a study by Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF).

It also reported that cultural and heritage tourists spend 24 per cent more and stay 24 per cent longer in Australia than the average international visitor; and domestic tourists mad 4.1 million day trips to such attractions, spending 56 per cent more and staying 37 percent longer than the average.

People clearly value heritage sites, perhaps for the architectural grandeur, or the historical references to another time, place and series of events. Whatever the reason why, the adaptive re-use of heritage assets has become a crucial element to the visitor economy.

“The adaptive re-use of heritage buildings can be a win for the economy as well as environmental and social objectives for the public and government,” TTF CEO, Margy Osmond said.

“Giving heritage structures a new lease of life as visitor infrastructure supports the conservation, greater return on public and private investment, environmental sustainability, reduced expenditure, place revitalisation and community engagement to name a few of the potential benefits.”

TTF  is encouraging the government to work with private operators to preserve and give new life to the portfolio of historic government buildings no longer providing meaningful benefit to the public.

The study encourages the adoption of a whole-of-government approach to heritage that involves active identification and management of heritage buildings as well as consistent and streamlined government processes across the country.

Tourism should be actively considered as a significant use of heritage buildings that are identified for adaptive re-use.

“Visiting sites of historical importance – or better yet, getting to spend the night in them in some cases – can play a key role in the choice of travel destination. Heritage tourism attracts visitors, creates reasons to stay longer, spend more and add depth to the visitor experience,” Osmond said. 

“The Rocks in Sydney, Salamanca Wharf in Hobart and the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne are popular examples of what adaptive re-use of heritage buildings can do to boost the visitor economy and attract more visitors to a precinct. We have so many more opportunities throughout our cities and regional communities to better utilise our built history to benefit the public.

Osmond said the heritage buildings that cannot be accessed by public is a “missed opportunity to celebrate their cultural significance and further enhance the visitor economy.”



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