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By Mark Beale



After a number of challenging years, the Whitsunday region has re-emerged as a destination of choice for Australian travellers with the biggest growth of national visitors in all of Queensland, according to the latest National Visitor Survey.

Domestic visitors to the Whitsundays for the twelve months to March 31, 2014 have increased by 6.2 per cent – the highest growth rate for all Queensland regions.

Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) Chief Executive Officer Danial Rochford said he was ecstatic to see such terrific results for the Whitsunday region.

“For the first time in a while, we have seen a strong growth in domestic visitors, visitor numbers and visitor expenditure for the Whitsundays which is just sensational,” Mr Rochford said.   “Visitor nights have increased by 4.4 per cent and visitor expenditure grew by 14.1 per cent equating to an additional $80 million dollars injected into our local economy over the past year,” Mr Rochford said.

WMDL Deputy Chairman and Chairman of WMDL’s Tourism Advisory Group, Mr Jeff Aquilina said that this was a massive coup for the region.   “The results are phenomenal and I would like to pay tribute to WMDL and Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) for their hard work and commitment in promoting the Whitsunday region,” Mr Aquilina said.

“Under the leadership of CEO Danial Rochford, WMDL has focussed on working together in partnership with our local industry, the Queensland Government and the Whitsunday Regional Council,”   “Without doubt, the latest statistics, and the positive forward bookings and demand, are a direct result of this collaboration and I would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work,” Mr Aquilina concluded.

“These results also show that the region is on target to meet its 2020 goals of doubling visitor expenditure to $1.25 billion,” Mr Rochford said.

“Though these results are great, we still see room for significant growth beyond these figures and we are certainly focusing on driving new opportunities for the region,”

“Over the past eighteen months we have driven continuous activity in trade, digital, PR and marketing campaigns and without doubt this has contributed to the growth,”

“We are not going to stop marketing the Whitsundays and are already planning some of the boldest and most innovative marketing campaigns to raise the exposure of the region,” Mr Rochford said.

“These results are also a testament to the major injection of investment into our tourism industry,”   “In the last twelve months we have seen well over $100 Million dollars directly invested in projects such as the refurbishment of the One&Only Hayman Island, Beach Club on Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach Main Street, Abell Point Marina, the new Cruise Whitsundays terminal and the Port of Airlie,” Mr Rochford said.

“This is showing great investor confidence in our region and will only help the Whitsundays move to the next level,” Mr Rochford concluded.

In another positive sign for the future, Tigerair Australia is pleased with demand for its new Sydney – Whitsunday Coast Airport route which started operating in April 2014 and provides over 1000 additional visitor seats through Whitsunday Coast Airport every week.

They are seeing solid forward bookings, particularly through the current July and upcoming September school holiday periods.

“We’ve been thrilled with the support we’ve received locally for these new services and we’re confident this new and only direct air service to the doorstep of the Whitsunday Coast will continue to be popular with Sydneysiders wanting to plan an Airlie Beach or island escape and also for local residents keen on a value airfare to Sydney,” said Matt Payne, Tigerair’s Head of Commercial Performance.

Wotif Product Director at leading travel website Donna Rodios said that is pleased to be partnering with WMDL on the current Perfect from Every Angle campaign, which is offering travellers great hotel and flight deals, as well as packages to the Whitsundays.

“The Whitsundays is a popular Queensland destination for travellers in summer, as well as in winter, with the tropical weather appealing to holidaymakers eager to relax on the beach, explore the Great Barrier Reef and make the most of the range of activities on offer,” Ms Rodios said.

“Aussie travellers love a winter beach getaway, with our winter survey revealing 72.5% of the 22,935 people surveyed prefer a hot beach holiday closer to home over a cold, snowy getaway. The Whitsundays ticks this box and it’s why we are working with WMDL to ensure that Aussie travellers, especially from the southern states, get their fill of beautiful, pristine beaches this winter,” Ms Rodios concluded.

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