Coal output falls, tourism takes over

The Illawarra's mining industry contracted almost 10 per cent in the 12 months to September last year, according to the latest IRIS Profile Illawarra report, released on Wednesday.

IRIS is an Illawarra-based organisation that specialises in economic, community and industry research for government, business and academic institutions.

The data showed the total volume of coal produced was down by 9.4 per cent from 16.7 million tonnes to 15.1 million tonnes, while industry employment fell 7 per cent to 3604 people.

The three months to September were the worst for the industry, with mining recording an overall coal production decline of 24.8 per cent.

Production per person was also down, with a 2.6 per cent decline recorded in the 12 months to September, falling to 4200 tonnes per employee.

The report also noted a decline in trade activity at Port Kembla Harbour.

During the year to September 2013, import levels fell 2.5 per cent to 10.3 million tonnes.

At the same time, export tonnage at Port Kembla contracted by 17.2 per cent.

But it wasn't all bad news for the Illawarra's economy.

Data contained in the report showed the median house price in Wollongong rose by 4 per cent to $447,000 with a total of 3407 sales recorded for the 12 months to September 2013. The average unit price also rose 6.8 per cent to $358,000.

Data also showed an 8.7 per cent boost in the amount domestic tourists spent in the Illawarra per day. An average of $90 per trip was spent by domestic daytrip travellers to the region (up 12.5 per cent), with expenditure totalling $344.2 million (up 24 per cent).

Domestic overnight travellers spent an average of $128 per night, up 4.9 per cent in the 12 months to September.