Election2013: Tourism an important issue for Ballarat economy

The Ballarat Courier

Boosting tourism and ensuring major events remain in Ballarat are vital to the city’s hospitality industry, according to Seymours Hotel licensee Chris Sargent.

Sargent said that  large events in Ballarat had economic flow-on effects which benefited the entire community.

“Tourism is a huge benefit for motels and pubs,” he said.

“When they do big events – Beer Fest, a concert at Kryal Castle, a big basketball tournament, Rockabilly – you can’t get accommodation for months in advance.

“Every pub is packed, busy and across the board it just makes Ballarat a better place.”

Sargent said pubs could act as a barometer to gauge the health of a city’s economy.

“Being in pubs, we’re the first people to lose out when unemployment is up,” he said.

“Job losses mean there’s less disposable income and less people going out so, for us, maintaining the big businesses like Mars and McCains helps people keep coming to places like ours.”

Sargent said that at election time, he would be thinking about who could keep the unemployment rate down and who could best drive economic growth.

He said it could be a tough choice come September 7.

“I’ve always been a Liberal voter and I’ll probably vote Liberal, but I am undecided at this stage,” Sargent said.

“But I’m a massive fan of these tourism grants which Labor is offering … anything that helps tourism is just sensational for us.”

Commerce Ballarat chair Andrew Rowan said small business wanted to see what local candidates thought about four key areas in the lead-up to the September 7 poll.

He said the nationwide “Too Big To Ignore” campaign was relevant in Ballarat, and called on candidates to give their views on cutting red tape, simplifying the tax system, employing workers and fixing infrastructure.



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