Where have our visitors gone?
Floods and international economic downturn reduce visitors to region
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.
FESTIVAL FUN: Huge crowds fill the streets at the Childers Multicultural Festival.