By CHRIS EARL

THE MILDURA brand is resonating with lockdown-weary Victorians planning their regional travel escapes as COVID restrictions begin to ease.

And the strategic marketing initiatives by Mildura Regional Development over the past week have really hit the mark with young people.

Chief executive officer Brett Millington said venue advertising during the first weekend of AFL finals had triggered a spike in potential visitors to Sunraysia keen to discover more about the region.

“Last weekend there was a 280 per cent increase in visits to our website by people in the 18-24 demographic and a massive 700 per cent jump in visits by people in the Geelong area,” Mr Millington said.

“People in regional Victoria are looking to travel within the state and Mildura is now front of mind as a destination of choice.

“Our message is also hitting the mark with Melburnians already looking to the day they can again explore regional destinations with Melbourne visitors to our website last weekend up 12 per cent on last year.”

Mr Millington said Mildura’s pitch during the AFL finals had also attracted national interest with a jump of 66 per cent in website visits by Perth people and 17 per cent out of Brisbane.

And the national push revved up more yesterday with Mildura Regional Development and seven local businesses adding local branding to Tickford Racing’s Monster Energy Ford Mustang at the next week’s Bathurst 1000.

The car will be driven by Mildura’s Cameron Waters in Australia’s biggest motor race as one of the favourites after finishing first in Race 30 at The Bend Supersprint last month.

Known as the Supercars Grand Final, the Bathurst 1000 is the Holy Grail of motor sport – a race every driver and team wants to win. The Mildura brand will be prominent on the No. 6 Mustang along with further branding on Cam’s helmet.

With three days of live free-to-air TV coverage, the Mildura branding is expected to reach more than four million viewers.

Mr Millington said: “This advertising initiative, with its national exposure, will generate far broader benefits to all visitor segments.

“By our brand staying consistently in market and the support of Cam’s local background, the Mildura region will be reinforced as a distinctive and refreshing tourism destination.”

Mildura council has also established an events funding and support recovery fund to help local event organisers as COVID restrictions ease.