In Victoria’s northeast, around 94 kms of cycle path runs from Wangaratta to the delightful towns of Beechworth and Bright, the ‘Murray to Mountains Rail Trail’. A recent study has found that the way in which cycle tourism advocates go about presenting tourism-related opportunities to small businesses – such as bike hire, cafes, restaurants, winery tours and acommodation houses – can help in the economic development process.
Although cycle tourism only contributes around 10% to annual turnover in the region, this could increase with upgraded facilities and additional services.
They need to jointly address low levels of cycling tourism spending through on-going rail trail construction and maintenance, marketing opportunities and new tourism product development through:
1) regular meetings of stakeholders to service cyclists’ needs;
2) discussions re: business-trading hours, marketing strategies, tourist incentives and tourism product development (ie holiday packages).
The challenge is for regional businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and the local Shire to share a mutually cooperative working relationship. If the stakeholders collaborate and combine their knowledge, expertise and capital resources “they will achieve a greater coordination of efforts and a more effective implementation of strategies leading to tourism development”.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF CYCLE TOURISM
1) secure undercover storage facilities for cyclists’ gear, bikes and cars;
2) bike racks outside shop fronts for cyclists to leave their bikes;
3) free maps or brochures informing cyclists about the Rail Trail;
4) promoting cycling activities in the area, such as mountain bike tours;
5) offering ‘appropriate’ meals and packed lunches;
6) providing refills of cyclists’ water bottles with ‘fresh mountain’ water;
7) offering visitors free use of bikes as part of their accommodation;
8) a free bikie pick up/drop off service between the rail trail and accommodation;
9) promoting and supporting cycling events/races such as the Audax Classic and Great Vic Bike Ride;
10)promoting other local businesses involved in cycling tourism