Bil­lion dol­lar boom for Trop­i­cal North tourism

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Kim­ber­ley Vlasic

AMER­I­CANS have fallen in love with the Trop­i­cal North, ar­riv­ing in huge num­bers and with bulging wal­lets.

Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia’s lat­est in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor sur­vey shows US visi­ta­tion jumped 17 per cent to 101,000 in the year to De­cem­ber, rank­ing the re­gion as the coun­try’s se­cond-most pop­u­lar desti­na­tion be­hind Syd­ney.

But they were vastly out­num­bered by the 174,000 Chi­nese vis­i­tors who trav­elled to the Trop­i­cal North last year, which ce­mented China as the re­gion’s big­gest in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

The Trop­i­cal North is the top pick in Queens­land for in­ter­na­tional hol­i­day­mak­ers, with visi­ta­tion in­creas­ing six per cent to 720,000, fol­lowed by the Gold Coast (711,000).

Over­all in­ter­na­tional visi­ta­tion, in­clud­ing busi­ness travel, also rose six per cent to 781,000, while the num­ber of nights spent in the re­gion in­creased by four per cent to 6.7 mil­lion.

Tourism Port Dou­glas Dain­tree ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tara Ben­nett said it was im­por­tant to note trav­ellers were also spend­ing more, with ex­pen­di­ture climb­ing 11 per cent to $1 bil­lion.

“That trans­lates into in­creased rev­enues for our re­gion’s oper­a­tors,” she said.

“The fig­ures con­firm what we’ve heard from oper­a­tors in past 12 months, that there has been sig­nif­i­cant growth in US and UK visi­ta­tion.

“I think it’s a com­bi­na­tion of the change in the Aus­tralian dol­lar as well as Aus­tralia re­gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in key in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.”

Ms Ben­nett said she ex­pected con­tin­ued growth in the Port Dou­glas-Dain­tree re­gion, with whole­sale part­ners in the UK re­port­ing in­creased book­ings of up to 30 per cent over the past six months.

Tourism and Events Queens­land chair­man Bob East be­lieves TNQ’s unique tourism of­fer­ings give it an edge over other des­ti­na­tions.

“From Queens­land’s great­est nat­u­ral as­set the Great Bar­rier Reef, to an­cient trop­i­cal rain­for­est and an ar­ray of cul- tu­ral ex­pe­ri­ences,” he said. Swedish back­pack­ers Sofie Pet­ters­son, 21, and Hanna Rosell, 22, ar­rived in Cairns three weeks ago and are en­joy­ing the Trop­i­cal North life­style.

“The weather is very good, it’s very hot,” Ms Rosell said.

“Back home in Swe­den it’s so cold right now. I like ev­ery­thing you can do here. You can sky­dive and go to the Bar­rier Reef. There’s a lot to ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­plore.”

For the first time, more than 2.3 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers touched down in Queens­land, an in­crease of nine per cent on the pre­vi­ous 12 months, in­ject­ing a mas­sive $4.9 bil­lion into the state econ­omy.

Pic­ture: MARC McCOR­MACK

Swedish back­pack­ers Hanna Rosell, 22, and Sofie Pet­ters­son, 21, en­joy the Trop­i­cal North life­style.

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