Tourism generates 19,700 South Coast jobs and contributes $2 billion to the region's economy, according to a new report.
The profile, by the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation, covers Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley.
It showed 3 million domestic visitors spent more than 11 million nights and $1.4 billion in the region in the 2012/2013 year.
Another 6.1 million domestic day visitors were also counted in the same period, spending more than $530 million.
Destination Wollongong's Mark Sleigh said he worked with South Coast partners so the South Coast was marketed as a single entity.
"The development of drive [products], such as the Grand Pacific Drive, have been instrumental in this strategy, with over 90 per cent of visitors to the South Coast having access to a car," he said.
The report showed there were 103,000 international visitors to the region last year. International overnight visitors spent more than $116 million.
In the Illawarra sub-region (Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama), almost 43 per cent of visitors came to see friends and relatives, while 50 per cent came for a holiday or pleasure. Business accounted for 5 per cent of visitors.
About half of the Illawarra's visitors come from Sydney, and 32 per cent came from regional NSW.
Mr Sleigh said the visitor economy was growing.
"Anecdotally, our hotels are reporting record results of the 2013/14 summer period in what is a very tough domestic tourism market," he said.
The sale of two hotels showed investor confidence was at a high and we are looking into creating compelling attractions in the near future, he said.