More tourists but total spending falls
■ The North West experienced the biggest fall in international tourism spending and nights stayed in Australia, despite an increase in travellers to the region.
Tourism Research Australia’s 2014-15 International Visitor Survey revealed expenditure plummeted more than 35 per cent and nights stayed dropped by about 23 per cent in the year to September.
The survey showed about 4000 more tourists visited the North West, but stayed in the region for a total of about 500,000 fewer days.
International backpacker numbers also dropped by about 2000 to 16,000.
Spending by international tourists was down from $120 million in 2013-14 to $77 million in 2014-15.
Pilbara Regional Council chief executive Tony Friday pointed out the fall in spending could be attributed to less business travel because of the mining downturn.
“Obviously we would like to maintain that level of business visitation seen through the construction cycle, but at the end of the day the Pilbara’s loss is the rest of the country’s gain,” he said.
“The business visitors make a strong contribution to the accommodation and some hospitality providers, but what they don’t tend to do is be strong contributors to the tourism services operators and facilities.
“Those operators are being better supported by the domestic drive market.”
Mr Friday said Pilbara tourism operators were a “resilient bunch”, having been through many ups and downs over the past decade.
Durack MP Melissa Price said strong growth in domestic and international visitors was expected for the tourism industry in the coming years.
“In WA, domestic visitor numbers for are expected to increase by 2.9 per cent annually to reach 50.2 million by 2024-25,” she said.
“Similar strong growth is expected for international visitor numbers which are expected to increase 5 per cent per year to reach 47.4 million in 2024-25.
“These forecasts paint a positive picture about the future of tourism in Australia and will provide further confidence to our local tourism industry.”
Ms Price said the Federal Government was focused on continuing to grow the tourism sector for the future.