Healesville named on of Australia’s most ‘welcoming’ towns

Lianne and Paul Slinger, owners of Bundjil Studio, have welcomed Healesville's new status. 267039_06 PICTURE: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Renee Wood

Healesville has been named the sixth most welcoming town in Australia in the 2022 Traveller Review Awards.

The town achieved the result through a calculation of awards and overall high customer reviews on Booking.com, making it evident that visitors enjoy the area and its accommodation providers.

Yarra Gables accommodation owner Ralph Henderson welcomed the accolade and said it’s good news for the local sector.

“Maybe it’s a reflection of where we’ve been the last couple of years and that everyone’s keen to have people back. It’s a big part of our life and our community,” Mr Henderson said.

It’s hoped the recognition for the town will create more opportunities for new visitors while the tourism sector is still rebuilding after suffering major losses over the past two years.

“People want to go somewhere where they’re welcome. There are places where not everyone welcomes visitors, but I think Healesville has come a long way with visitors and we are pretty keen to see everyone back,” Mr Henderson said.

Bundjil Studio accommodation owner Lianne Slinger believes Healesville is a value asset in the state’s visitor economy by being in a country setting while having close proximity to the city.

“We have over 80 wineries now, we have markets on weekends, we have great little shops and little boutiques and delicatessens and cheese makers – so we have all these different things that we can offer guests,” Ms Slinger said.

Creating a welcoming home-like environment for guests is also an important part of lifting the local experience.

“People can sit there and they wouldn’t know they’re in an hour out off the city. They’re in the bush, they can have a fire – it’s something lovely to offer them. We try and give them quality which is what we pride ourselves on,” Ms Slinger said.

Although friendliness is the best ingredient to securing the a ‘most welcoming’ title – which is seen as the key to generating return visitors back to the town.

“My belief is the friendliness, the way you greet people, is what brings people back. They just keep coming back to the valley.”

Healesville was one of three Victorian towns that made it on the list, while Maleny in Queensland claimed the top spot.

2022 Most Welcoming Towns in Australia:

1. Maleny , Queensland

2. Mount Tamborine, Queensland

3. Halls Gap, Victoria

4. Denmark, Western Australia

5. Margaret River Town, Western Australia

6. Healesville, Victoria

7. Warrnambool, Victoria

8. Hervey Bay, Queensland

9. Montville, Queensland

10. Albany, Western Australia

Booking.com Australian Manager Melissa Ellison said the award achievements highlight the unwavering hospitality of Aussies, in the face of yet another year in the global pandemic.

“As the travel industry has remained vigilant and flexible in light of the continued uncertainty and travel restrictions we’ve seen over the course of the past year, the passion and dedication of our Australian partners to create safe and welcoming travel experiences for everyone across the nation has continued to shine through,” Ms Ellison said.