A new chocolate café, a winery and a wild life sanctuary are among four projects to be funded by the Australian Government to improve the tourism offering on the Great Ocean Road and Geelong and Bellarine regions.

Funding of more than $1.6 million will be allocated through the Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure (TDDI) programme.

Matching funding provided by the grant recipients will increase the overall investment to $3.8 million.

The Platypi Chocolate project will receive $300,000 to construct a new chocolate café in Forrest. The facility will include a licenced café, retail outlet and a chocolate production area. Private investment of over $700,000 will bring the total project investment to more than $1 million.

The Wildlife Wonders project will receive $557,962 to undertake planning, design and the development of a business case for a new Australian wildlife ecotourism experience on a spectacular 20 ha property west of Apollo Bay. The project proponent will provide matching funding.  

Located along the Great Ocean Road, the proposed facility will house Australian wildlife in a natural setting and be designed to educate visitors and support conservation efforts for Australian wildlife. Should the business case for the facility be positive, additional private investment of $6.4 million will bring the total project investment to over $7.4 million.

The Provenance Cellar Door project will receive $332,000 for the construction of a working winery and cellar door at the Fyansford Paper Mill. The project is part of the redevelopment of Barwon Paper Mills and will complement the existing tourism offering in the area. Private investment of $465,000 will bring the total project investment to $797,000.

The Wye Beach Hotel project will receive $450,000 to expand the existing hotel and enable weddings, conferences and other events. Private investment of $450,000 will bring the total investment to $900,000.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo said the projects will provide visitors to the region with a range of exciting and interesting experiences.

"Tourism is a vital industry for Australia and especially in the regions, where 45 cents of every tourist dollar is spent," he said.

"These projects will add to the depth and variety of tourism offerings available to visitors to these iconic regions."

Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren said the funding will breathe new life and bring more business to the region.   

"Many regions rely on the money and time tourists spend in their communities, which is why we're working to attract even more visitors by supporting local businesses and creating jobs."  

"Tourists bring serious business to our region – and these new attractions will provide a greater range of tourism experiences and world-class facilities."   

Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson said tourism is a pillar of the region's economy and these projects would strengthen the industry, driving jobs and further economic growth.

"There are 3731 people directly employed by the tourism industry in Corangamite," she said.

"This investment in our tourism industry means more growth in our economy and more jobs for locals.

"In the year ending March 2017, international visitation to the Great Ocean Road tourism region increased by 16 per cent on the previous year, attracting 218,000 visitors who spent $103 million, an increase of 29 per cent on the previous year.

"In the same period domestic overnight visitation in the Geelong and Bellarine tourism region also increased, attracting 1.3 million visitors who spent $512 million, increases of six and nine per cent respectively."  

The Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure programme will invest $43.1 million over four years, including $7.2 million in Victoria, to drive demand, improve quality and increase tourism expenditure to assist the tourism industry in meeting Tourism 2020 targets.

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