Visitor numbers are up and they are spending more.
Tourist associations and hospitality business in the Illawarra and South Coast are bouyed by the latest figures from the National Visitors Survey.
They annual survey of travel by Australians conducted by Tourism Research Australia shows growth in visitation and economic impact.
Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh said figures for the year ending December 31 showed more events, the arrival of cruise ships at Port Kembla and the welcoming service being provided by tourism operators up and down the coast were all paying dividends for the economy.
“Visitation growth of nearly 5 per cent year on year is an excellent result, at an already very busy time of the year. More importantly, visitor economy growth of almost 14 per cent is an outstanding result and means that visitors are coming and spending money in the local economy,” Mr Sleigh said.
“This isn’t just money spent in hotel and tourist attractions. This money is being spent in newsagents, jewellers, hairdressers, petrol stations, there is no business on the South Coast that does not genuinely benefit from a rise in visitor numbers.”
This money being spent by visitors is creating jobs, and will continue to create more jobsDestination Wollongong's Mark Sleigh
Mr Sleigh said most importantly the money being spent by more visitors is creating jobs, and will continue to create more employment in the tourism and hospitality sector. But he said no one in the industry was resting on their laurels.
“There is still a long way to go,” Mr Sleigh said.
“We need to get better at activating areas of high visitation and we need to get serious about developing world class, iconic attractors that will put Wollongong, and the South Coast firmly on the international map. We have demonstrated with events like Elton John and the recent historic Super League match along with the ongoing engagement with the cruise industry that we are a genuine tourist destination.”
Mr Sleigh said the one piece of the puzzle missing was an iconic infrastructure project which would underpin leisure visitation, seven days a week. But he said the South Coast was certainly doing it bit to help meet the State Government’s aspirational target of doubling the overnight economy by 2020.