Analysis of figures released by Tourism Research Australia – the Commonwealth Government’s tourism statistics bureau – by the Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) has shown strong improvement in the performance of the combined Illawarra, Shoalhaven and South Coast tourism market over the last financial year.
The South Coast region, defined by tourism Research Australia as the coastal strip from Helensburgh to the southern border [see map below] grew across almost every measure, unlike many of its peers. International visitor numbers grew by 5%, visitor nights grew by 12% and regional expenditure by those visitors grew by almost 7%. Domestic visitors also grew by 13%, visitor nights grew by 13% and expenditure by 17%.
IBC Executive Director Adam Zarth said that the consistency of tourism growth across the broader region should be encouraging for local operators and a signal to government that it is time to look beyond Sydney for tourism investment.
“Our region has outperformed many of its peers over the last financial year and it is loved by both international and domestic tourists alike.”
“We’re seeing very encouraging signs across the board in the growth of our region. The NSW Government needs to support the South Coast, given the enhanced focus on regional NSW in its current tourism strategy.”
“Tourism is a rapidly growing sector of our regional economy, directly and indirectly employing around 8 percent of our workforce, with tourists contributing $2.3 billion in regional expenditure,”
“This represents a huge opportunity that we must look to leverage, in particular marketing to international visitors. Across the board, overseas visitors from India increased by 53% over the past three years, followed by the Canadian (32%), Indonesian (32%) and Japanese markets (27%).”
“However, international tourists need to be able to readily access the South Coast, and transport connectivity constraints that the Illawarra Business Chamber has outlined in great detail, will impact continued growth. Similarly, accommodation options are critical. For instance we are acutely aware that Wollongong requires more accommodation for tourists, which local government must look to encourage and enable,” said Mr Zarth.