Queenslanders have led the charge of visitors to the Whitsundays in the past 12 months, with a 19.8 per cent increase in their numbers since July last year.
The insurgence of Queenslanders has helped balance out the overall number of visitors to the region, with interstate numbers dropping, according to new National Visitor Survey statistics released by Tourism Research Australia yesterday.
Of the 551,000 people who visited the region in the 2017-2018 financial year, 372,000 of them came from Queensland.
Of these, 206,000 came specifically for a holiday – an increase of 45 per cent on the previous year.
The region has not been as popular with interstate visitors however, with a 12.3 per cent decrease in numbers on the previous year, with only 179,000 interstate visitors last year.
Of those, 129,000 came here specifically for a holiday – a decrease of 18.9 per cent on the previous year.
According to the survey, visitors to the region spent $554.6 million, which is an increase of 5.9 per cent on the previous financial year.
It was part of an upward trend, with the numbers up 6.9 per cent over three years.
The average length of stay for visitors to the region has dropped 9.7 per cent on the previous year, with people staying an average of 4.2 nights.
But visitors are spending more this year per day they are here, with an average spend of $238 daily.
The overall spend per visitor has dropped slightly to $1006, down 1.2 per cent on the previous financial year and 2.3 per cent on the past three years.
Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Tash Wheeler was pleased with the figures overall, saying they reflected the fact parts of the Whitsundays were still recovering from Cyclone Debbie in March 2017.
“These are not alarming figures,” Mrs Wheeler said.
“Given what the region has gone through since (Cyclone) Debbie, this is positive.”
Mrs Wheeler said both Daydream and Hayman Islands had not yet re-opened since the cyclone and visitor numbers should expect to be down.
The availability of direct flights to the Whitsundays also played a large part in how many people visited the region from interstate – especially Melbourne and Sydney.
“Air access is one of the biggest ones (problems in attracting visitors),” she said. “If they can’t get the right flight, at the right time, they will go elsewhere.”
Mrs Wheeler said the rise in Queensland visitors was likely due to concentrated marketing of the area since Cyclone Debbie. Between $2 million and $3.5 million has been spent on marketing the picturesque region by Tourism Whitsundays and Tourism and Events Queensland.
The “huge increase” in intrastate visitors was a big win for the region, Mrs Wheeler said.
“Over the years this (Queensland visitor numbers) has fluctuated.”
Mrs Wheeler paid tribute all those involved in the tourism industry in Whitsundays for their hard work during the past financial year.
“Our industry is so resilient and fought so hard.”
Mrs Wheeler is looking forward to all the figures increasing next year.
“Bring on 2019,” she said.
Source: Whitsunday Times.