St Kilda: tourism, culture and events

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Deputy Mayor Serge Thomann

We are in winter and St Kilda is a different place at this time of the year. I love St Kilda in winter – as long as it does not rain. Sunny cool days are beautiful, with the most amazing sunsets. Obviously, we all know that St Kilda is a summer place. This is when we get most of our visitors and many activities take place. Our traders are quieter in winter and I encourage all St Kilda and Port Phillip residents to support our local businesses during this period. I know some of our residents don’t always enjoy all the summer activities but these events help make St Kilda what it is. Council encourages events in our city, but with strict rules that limit the impact on our residents when it comes to noise, rubbish, etc.

The City of Port Phillip and St Kilda Tourism and Events recently commissioned an interesting study to gain a better understanding of St Kilda visitors, how the visitation experience can be improved and what would give locals a stronger sense of attachment to their local area. How to increase the number of visitors was a key objective of the study. We know that a lot of visitors come to our village but we don’t necessarily know what motivates them to visit and how they enjoy their visit.

This interesting study was completed by BrandHook and I feel it is worth me sharing some of their findings. This will hopefully help some of our businesses in developing future strategies.

BrandHook asked visitors, stakeholders and residents what St Kilda was like as a person. All groups saw St Kilda as a young bohemian socialite. Some of the characteristics described included being open, inclusive, approachable, relaxed, playful, joyous.

St Kilda’s personality reflected a non-gender specific musician or artist with an alternative streak – dynamic, free-spirited and a free-thinker – vibrant and edgy but also relaxed. St Kilda’s strengths are that it is genial, open-minded and understanding –approachable, interesting and fun to be around – a natural entertainer with a unique zest for life. However, St Kilda can also be temperamental or “full on” for some.

I think it is worth me sharing some of the key learnings that have come out of this survey. First, St Kilda is loved for being a place to escape the daily grind. Locals are also looking for something cultured and in depth experiences, while visitors want to take away something unique. St Kilda is currently seen more as a summer destination and we need to promote and expand winter experiences. We do still have our beautiful foreshore, our events, venues, cafes, galleries…

There is a need to make the St Kilda experience work harder so that it continues to exceed rather than meet expectations. There is an opportunity to extend St Kilda’s retail offering – something to bring in people all over Melbourne because it’s unique, cool and funky!

Families are making use of the less busy parts of St Kilda and are looking for more kids-friendly entertainment options. St Kilda is perceived as a great hub for festivals and people are hungry for more ‘left of field’, ‘one of a kind’, engaging and art focused entertainment.

The future of St Kilda is ideally about embracing its creativity, multiculturalism, local talent and its space, including family friendly events and delivering to all its tribes who co-exist comfortably.

Pip Stocks, CEO and Founder of BrandHook says, “this piece of research was designed to help understand what visitors and locals thought of St Kilda and where were the opportunities are to help continue the growth of the area into an iconic destination in Melbourne.”

This study demonstrates clearly that while St Kilda has always been ‘Melbourne’s playground’, more creativity is required to keep it a thriving force in Melbourne and Victoria.

The St Kilda Triangle could one of the answers to this dilemma. Melbourne needs a destination close to the CDB where tourists can spend a whole day. There isn’t any place that fills that gap at the moment and we should seize this unique opportunity. I am very pleased the top tourism body in Victoria, the Victorian Tourism Industry Council, has chosen the Triangle as one of its top six priorities for the State for the years to come. It is a great endorsement of the work we have done with our community on this topic.

I know there are some critics and some people think but I am still ambitious and optimistic that something will happen on this underutilised, prominent site. Rome was not built in one day! There is no hurry to develop the site. The cultural charter that Council has agreed to will determine what kind of infrastructure can go onto the site. Let’s all put our collective minds together and come up with the right cultural institution, should it be NGV Modern, an Australian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, another Guggenheim, or something else. Having taken Jean Nouvel, one of the world top architects to visit the site, I believe even more now about the potential we have got after listening to his comments.

Before I sign off, thank you very much for your feedback about the Acland Street upgrade. I’m glad I could kill some of the myths that exist around this project. I would also like to congratulate St Kilda resident Aimee Marks from TOM Organic for been selected as the Victorian Young Achiever of the Year. Bravo!

Enjoy our St Kilda winter!

Cr Serge Thomann

Deputy Mayor








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