Where have our vis­i­tors gone?

Floods and in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic down­turn re­duce vis­i­tors to re­gion

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

AN ANAL­Y­SIS of tourism data from the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment Statis­ti­cian’s Of­fice has re­vealed the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the Bund­aberg lo­cal gov­ern­ment area is at its low­est level in years. What has kept vis­i­tors away?

DE­SPITE three tourism op­er­a­tors in the Bund­aberg re­gion tak­ing home prizes at the re­cent Queens­land Tourism Awards, the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the area has de­clined in three ma­jor cat­e­gories.

Based on data from the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment Statis­ti­cian’s Of­fice, the num­ber of do­mes­tic day and overnight vis­i­tors to the Bund­aberg lo­cal gov­ern­ment area is at its low­est level in years.

We fare even worse when it comes to in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, with num­bers at their low­est lev­els since the 2005–06 fi­nan­cial year.

Do­mes­tic overnight vis­i­tor num­bers have con­tin­ued to fall since 2011–12, when about 567,000 vis­i­tors stayed in the re­gion, with the es­ti­mated num­ber for the 2013–14 fi­nan­cial year a be­low-av­er­age 523,000.

Do­mes­tic day vis­i­tors fell 17.3% to 910,000 in the 2013–14 fi­nan­cial year (down from 1.10 mil­lion the year be­fore).

BNBT gen­eral man­ager Rick Matkowski said two ma­jor flood events in the past three years kept some tourists away, but added that in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor num­bers de­pended on eco­nomic con­di­tions over­seas.

“The majority of our visi­ta­tion is from the in­trastate mar­ket and in par­tic­u­lar the (south-east) Queens­land area, which is still hold­ing up,” Mr Matkowski said.

“We re­ceive ap­prox­i­mately 50,000 back­pack­ers/work­ing hol­i­day visa mark­ers a year, who visit our re­gion to pick our crops and work as part of their visa con­di­tions.

“This fluc­tu­ates each year de­pend­ing on eco­nomic con­di­tions in key source mar­kets such as Con­ti­nen­tal Europe, UK and Ire­land.

“(The) ma­jor flood events and th­ese have im­pacted on avail­abil­ity of work and, of course, safety.”

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion con­tained in the most re­cent Facts and Fig­ures pub­li­ca­tion, in June, the tourism sec­tor sup­ported about 6611 jobs in the year to March 2014.

Bund­aberg Facts and Fig­ures is a quar­terly pub­li­ca­tion re­leased by Invest Bund­aberg, part of the Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil.

The pub­li­ca­tion said vis­i­tor ex­pen­di­ture added about $389.4 mil­lion to the lo­cal econ­omy, a con­tri­bu­tion to gross re­gional prod­uct of 8.9%.

BRC eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment port­fo­lio spokesman Coun­cil­lor Greg Barnes said the coun­cil val­ued tourism as a prime eco­nomic driver for the re­gion.

“Coun­cil con­tin­ues to part­ner with key or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as BNBT, as well as en­cour­ag­ing com­mu­nity in­volve­ment in attractions such as the Childers Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Mu­seum,” Cr Barnes said.

“The Hin­kler Hall of Avi­a­tion is a key vis­i­tor at­trac­tion main­tained and pro­moted by coun­cil and which is a draw­card to a tourism precinct cen­tred around the Bund­aberg Botan­i­cal Gar­dens.

“Coun­cil con­tin­ues to pur­sue ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional air­line in­ter­est in the Bund­aberg re­gion and ex­panded route op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

Queens­land Gov­ern­ment Statis­ti­cian’s Of­fice es­ti­mated Bund­aberg wel­comed 32,372 in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors in the 2013–14 fi­nan­cial year, a fall of about 17.7% from the pre­vi­ous year.

Mr Matkowski said most of those would have vis­ited be­tween mid-De­cem­ber and the end of Jan­uary for Bund­aberg’s tur­tle sea­son.

“The other strong sea­son is our win­ter, when we have an in­flux of grey no­mads com­ing north from south­ern Aus­tralia to en­joy our great cli­mate and life­style.”

Mr Matkowski said the vis­i­tor out­look was good for the tur­tle sea­son.

PHO­TOS: MAX FLEET BUN270714CMF8

PHOTO: MAX FLEET BUN270714CMF27

FES­TI­VAL FUN: Huge crowds fill the streets at the Childers Mul­ti­cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

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