ON THE RE­BOUND

Queens­land vis­i­tors com­ing in droves

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Monique Pre­ston monique.pre­ston @whit­sun­day­times.com.au

QUEENSLANDERS have led the charge of vis­i­tors to the Whit­sun­days in the past 12 months, with a 19.8 per cent in­crease in their num­bers since July last year.

The in­sur­gence of Queenslanders has helped bal­ance out the over­all num­ber of vis­i­tors to the re­gion, with in­ter­state num­bers drop­ping, ac­cord­ing to new Na­tional Vis­i­tor Sur­vey sta­tis­tics re­leased by Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia yes­ter­day.

Of the 551,000 peo­ple who vis­ited the re­gion in the 2017-2018 fi­nan­cial year, 372,000 of them came from Queens­land.

Of these, 206,000 came specif­i­cally for a hol­i­day – an in­crease of 45 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

The re­gion has not been as pop­u­lar with in­ter­state vis­i­tors how­ever, with a 12.3 per cent de­crease in num­bers on the pre­vi­ous year, with only 179,000 in­ter­state vis­i­tors last year.

Of those, 129,000 came here specif­i­cally for a hol­i­day – a de­crease of 18.9 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, vis­i­tors to the re­gion spent $554.6 mil­lion, which is an in­crease of 5.9 per cent on the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year.

It was part of an up­ward trend, with the num­bers up 6.9 per cent over three years.

The av­er­age length of stay for vis­i­tors to the re­gion has dropped 9.7 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year, with peo­ple stay­ing an av­er­age of 4.2 nights.

But vis­i­tors are spend­ing more this year per day they are here, with an av­er­age spend of $238 daily.

The over­all spend per vis­i­tor has dropped slightly to $1006, down 1.2 per cent on the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year and 2.3 per cent on the past three years.

Tourism Whit­sun­days chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tash Wheeler was pleased with the fig­ures over­all, say­ing they re­flected the fact parts of the Whit­sun­days were still re­cov­er­ing from Cy­clone Deb­bie in March 2017.

“These are not alarm­ing fig­ures,” Mrs Wheeler said.

“Given what the re­gion has gone through since (Cy­clone) Deb­bie, this is pos­i­tive.”

Mrs Wheeler said both Hamil­ton and Hay­man Is­lands had not yet re-opened since the cy­clone and vis­i­tor num­bers should ex­pect to be down.

The avail­abil­ity of di­rect flights to the Whit­sun­days also played a large part in how many peo­ple vis­ited the re­gion from in­ter­state – es­pe­cially Mel­bourne and Syd­ney.

“Air ac­cess is one of the big­gest ones (prob­lems in at­tract­ing vis­i­tors),” she said. “If they can’t get the right flight, at the right time, they will go else­where.”

Mrs Wheeler said the rise in Queens­land vis­i­tors was likely due to con­cen­trated mar­ket­ing of the area since Cy­clone Deb­bie. Be­tween $2 mil­lion and $3.5 mil­lion has been spent on mar­ket­ing the pic­turesque re­gion by Tourism Whit­sun­days and Tourism and Events Queens­land.

The “huge in­crease” in in­trastate vis­i­tors was a big win for the re­gion, Mrs Wheeler said.

“Over the years this (Queens­land vis­i­tor num­bers) has fluc­tu­ated.”

Mrs Wheeler paid trib­ute all those in­volved in the tourism in­dus­try in Whit­sun­days for their hard work dur­ing the past fi­nan­cial year.

“Our in­dus­try is so re­silient and fought so hard.”

Mrs Wheeler is look­ing for­ward to all the fig­ures in­creas­ing next year.

“Bring on 2019,” she said.

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