THE Border hospitality sector is experiencing unprecedented growth as the population swells and people dine out more often.
The $166 million food and beverage sector in Albury-Wodonga gained more than 40 per cent in value in the 12 months to December 2017.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said this week that the 41.3 per cent spike in the hospitality industry was the culmination of many factors.
He said it was a sign of population growth on the Border, increased tourism and events and changing dining trends.
“People these days are more open to eating out,” he said.
“People are busy and they’re going to restaurants and cafes more often.
“More cafes are opening, they’re putting on more staff and that has a ripple effect on the industry.”
The food and beverage sector employs about 3000 people across the Border, which represented a 43 per cent increase in the 12 months from 2016.
The hospitality sector’s output is now valued at $354 million.
Cr Mack, who is also the chairman of the Evocities concept, said the campaign to encourage people to live, work and invest in seven regional cities including Albury had made a significant impact on the hospitality industry.
He said a $300,000 marketing spend in metropolitan markets over six months had effectively highlighted the lifestyle advantages of seven Evocities – Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga.
“There has been a huge spike in overnight visitors and lots of relocators,” he said.
“People are looking to the food and beverage sector for investment opportunities too.”
Cr Mack said there has been significant uplift in the Albury food and beverage sector during the past 12 months.
He said the McGrath family’s new casual dining venture in Albury CBD, Greenstreat, represented a shift into a new style of on-the-go healthy eating.
“It’s evidence of what the discerning market is looking for,” Cr Mack said.
“The more choice on offer here the stronger the market is.”