Businesses urged to take advantage of Archibald tourism boom

Local businesses and attractions are being urged to begin planning now for a tourism boom, when the Archibald Prize exhibition rolls into Sale this October with an expected 55,000 visitors.

Australia’s most-prestigious portrait award, the Archibald Prize, is coming to Sale, and Wellington Shire Council is calling on local businesses and attractions to get on board and start planning now for a “tourism boom”.

Gippsland Art Gallery, at the Port of Sale, will host the much-loved — and often controversial — Archibald Prize exhibition in its centenary year.

The gallery expects to draw as many as 55,000 visitors to Sale and the region to see the Archibald show, so business owners and tourism operators are being asked to discuss their plans for the period of the exhibition with council.

Wellington Shire mayor Garry Stephens said Gippsland Art Gallery would be the only Victorian venue to present Australia’s oldest and most popular exhibition.

“Anyone in Melbourne, or anywhere else in the state, who wants to see the exhibition will need to travel to Sale,” he said.

“That means we’ll see more people than Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium can hold head to our region across the 45 days of the exhibition.”

The exhibition, featuring famous faces, self-portraits, unsung heroes and the $100,000 prize winner – Victorian artist Peter Wegner’s portrait of 100-year-old artist Guy Warren – will run from Friday, October 8, to Sunday, November 21.

“The exhibition will be open seven days a week, so it presents an incredible opportunity for us to showcase our region – and, of course, that includes Wellington traders and tourist attractions,” Cr Stephens said.

Local businesses are being invited to speak with council’s Archibald Prize project manager to discuss how to best prepare for this much-needed boost to Wellington Shire’s economy, such as extending trading hours, offering discounts to Archibald Prize ticket holders or offering attractions that appeal to visiting art lovers.

Businesspeople interesting in support the event can email Archibald Prize project manager Melanie Caple at melaniec@wellington.vic.gov.au or register here.