Fewer over­seas vis­i­tors

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE MCKIL­LOP

IT’S of­fi­cial - there are dra­mat­i­cally fewer over­seas vis­i­tors ar­riv­ing in the re­gion and they are spend­ing less and stay­ing fewer nights, ac­cord­ing to new data.

Fig­ures in the In­ter­na­tional and Na­tional Vis­i­tor Sur­veys com­piled by Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia show the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals at Cairns Air­port was 672,000 with an av­er­age stay of 8.9 nights in the year end­ing Septem­ber 2010.

While slightly more than last year (667,000), it was nowhere near the 852,000 over­seas vis­i­tors for the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod in 2006.

To make mat­ters worse, only 1.366 mil­lion do­mes­tic trav­ellers ar­rived at Cairns Air­port for an av­er­age of 5.7 nights - 13 per cent less than the 1,578,000 ar­rivals but ex­actly the same length of stay.

Most alarm­ing for Port Dou­glas and Dain­tree is the down­turn in key mar­kets with only 6000 ar­rivals from the United States (down 38 per cent), United King­dom 11,000 (down 28 per cent), Ger­many 3000 (down 20 per cent), France 1000 ( down 11 per cent), Den­mark 1000 (down 30 per cent), while 97,000 Ja­panese ar­rived (down 2 per cent).

In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor ex­pen­di­ture in the re­gion slumped 13 per cent to $797 mil­lion, while do­mes­tic vis­i­tors spent 7 per cent less than the pre­vi­ous year.

De­spite the gloomy fig­ures, Port Dou­glas Dain­tree Tourism ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Doug Ryan said New Zealand con­tin­ued to of­fer most prom­ise with 19,000 ar­rivals, up 33 per cent.

With a third car­rier, Jet­star, set to of­fer new flights from Auck­land to Cairns in April, it would be a key mar­ket mov­ing for­ward. In par­tic­u­lar, ne­go­ti­a­tions would con­tinue try­ing to se­cure an im­por­tant, ad­di­tional di­rect link to Christchurch.

Mean­while, the ar­rival of 11,000 vis­i­tors from China (up 52 per cent) was un­likely to af­fect Port Dou­glas or the Dain­tree as most stayed in Cairns for a max­i­mum of two nights for Chi­nese new year and re­turned home on char­ter flights.

“Ja­pan only ac­counts for about 6 per cent of our to­tal mar­ket whereas Western Europe and the US are to­tally dom­i­nant for us. We have suf­fered in the UK but in the US, we’ve prob­a­bly held our own, year on year, for the past three years,” Mr Ryan said.

“New Zealand dropped but it is look­ing good again for us.”

Mr Ryan was crit­i­cal of the limited scope of the vis­i­tor sur­veys but agreed it did ac­cu­rately re­flect the dif­fi­culty ex­pe­ri­enced by lo­cal op­er­a­tors, ac­com­mo­da­tion houses and oth­ers in the tourism in­dus­try.

“The prob­lem is the data sam­ple is so small and not spe­cific to sub re­gions such as Port Dou­glas. It gives ar­rivals to Cairns Air­port but how many turn left and how many turn right?” Mr Ryan said.

“It is like try­ing to de­ter­mine the num­ber of peo­ple who visit the Sun­shine Coast by read­ing ar­rivals at Bris­bane Air­port - these fig­ures just don’t give the full pic­ture.

“But that said, it has un­de­ni­ably been very, very tough and it is prob­a­bly go­ing to re­main that way be­tween now and at least April.”

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