A block­buster year shows up in the num­bers

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

THE lat­est tourism data for our re­gion shows that vis­i­tor num­bers are up strongly and so is their spend­ing.

The growth, on top of a re­mark­ably pos­i­tive year in 2014-15, con­firms a strong trend that is con­tin­u­ing. Bookings for next year are very healthy and paint a pic­ture of a re­gional tourism in­dus­try that is hav­ing its best year in at least a decade.

The In­ter­na­tional Vis­i­tor Sur­vey for the year end­ing June show that vis­i­ta­tion to trop­i­cal North Queensland from the US was up 18 per cent to 109,000, from NZ up 17 per cent to 43,000 and from the UK up 5 per cent to 97,000. The UK is cur­rently the largest source mar­ket for Dou­glas (spe­cific num­bers for Dou­glas are likely to be avail­able in a few days time).

Ger­man vis­i­tors were up 6.5 per cent to 52,000.

Growth mar­kets such as Canada were up 10 per cent to 23,000.

Ex­pen­di­ture for the re­gion is up 8.6 per cent to $1.086 bil­lion and the av­er­age spend per night is $166.

Growth is above the Queensland and Aus­tralian av­er­age with TNQ achiev­ing a higher in­crease in mar­ket share

The ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for Tourism Port Dou­glas and Dain­tree, Tara Ben­nett, said a hol­i­day in Aus­tralia was now a bet­ter propo­si­tion than two years ago for for­eign vis­i­tors.

“Par­tic­u­larly the US and NZ, I think Aus­tralia is a bet­ter value propo­si­tion now that the Aus­tralian dol­lar has soft­ened,” she said.

“Avi­a­tion ac­cess to the US is con­tin­u­ally im­prov­ing; the cost of air­fares is now as low as it’s ever been.”

It was highly note­wor­thy that ex­pen­di­ture in TNQ by vis­i­tors was up by 8.6 per cent, and af­ter what peo­ple spend is a crit­i­cal fac­tor – “we’re also see­ing a growth in spend in the re­gion,” Ms Ben­nett said. “We’re also as­pir­ing not just to in­crease num­bers but to be in­creas­ing yield.

“We want to see sus­tain­able vis­i­ta­tion rather than mass vis­i­ta­tion.”

Though the past week had soft­ened a lit­tle in terms of vis­i­ta­tion to the shire, it would be short­lived as the next school hol­i­days loom.

The sea­son had been a whop­per.

“It’s all smiles at the mo­ment. The tourism oper­a­tors have gone through some tough years and then last year helped re­cover from that and now this year it’s start­ing to pro­vide re­wards.

“You can start to re-in­vest, look at in­no­vat­ing, and any im­prove­ments you might be keen to im­ple­ment.”

Ms Ben­nett said for­ward bookings from some oper­a­tors are strong through to till mid 2017.

“I un­der­stand that some do­mes­tic vis­i­tors who come ev­ery year are find­ing their favourite apart­ment is al­ready gone, so that’s re­in­forc­ing the need to book well ahead.”

It’s all smiles at the mo­ment. The tourism oper­a­tors have gone through some tough years and then last year helped re­cover from that and now this year it’s start­ing to pro­vide re­wards.

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Wed­dings and reef tours are peren­nial favourites of tourism in the shire

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