Little penguins are making a big splash in Ballarat thanks to a $162,000 investment from the Andrews Labor Government that is set to draw even more visitors to the Ballarat Wildlife Park.
Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford officially launched the new exhibit today, which has been built with funding from the Labor Government’s $103 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).
Construction of the new enclosure, including landscaping and boardwalks, was completed in February 2018 and since then there has been a 40 per cent increase in visitors compared with the same time last year.
The enclosure is home to a colony of the world’s smallest penguins and includes an underwater viewing panel to give visitors an eye-to-eye experience and an insight into the penguin’s underwater activities.
Ballarat Wildlife Park is contributing to the conservation of this iconic species, with two penguin chicks already born and expectations of another chick with an egg close to hatching.
The penguin exhibit will extend the average visitor stay at the park and combined with Sovereign Hill and other Ballarat attractions, it will increase the likelihood of people staying overnight in the region.
The Ballarat Wildlife Park currently receives 80,000 visitors annually and is expected to increase to 140,000 within five years of the penguin enclosure opening.
With more people coming to see the Little Penguins, the project will increase employment opportunities in Ballarat’s cafes, hotels and retail shops.
The visitor economy is crucial to the future economic development of regional and rural Victoria with the sector contributing $11.5 billion to the regional economy and generating 114,400 jobs annually.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford
“This is an exciting day for penguin lovers. We’re combining conservation with wildlife tourism right here in Ballarat, and that’s something we can all celebrate.”
“Locals and visitors alike love penguins and this is a great boost for Ballarat tourism.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Tourism John Eren
“The opening of the new Little Penguin enclosure will bring more visitors to Ballarat, boosting business and creating jobs.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020