The Illawarra, Shoalhaven and the South Coast are benefiting as travelers head to coastal towns but how do we encourage them to spend more?
The latest International Visitor and National Visitor Survey shows tourists spent $113.4 billion in Australia in the year to September, 2018.
A record 8.4 million international travelers visited and an increased number visited regional destinations.
Federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham said 2.84 million international visitors spent time in regional areas.
The latest National Visitor Survey showed domestic spending in regional Australia increased 10 per cent as more Aussies turned to nature.
The South Coast welcomed 3.9 million domestic tourists and 192,900 international visitors, up 12 per cent. And they spent $261 million.
Destination Wollongong’s Mark Sleigh said visitor numbers and nights rising was a fantastic result but they are not spending as much here as they would with the right infrastructure in the places they most want to go.
“Tourism minister Adam Marshall has made a priority of regional dispersal since taking over the portfolio,” he said.
“There is no doubt that policy is paying dividends for Wollongong and the South Coast.
“The concern with these figures is whilst visitor numbers and nights are rising, visitor spend is not matching that rise.
“The big challenge for the Wollongong and the South Coast is looking at how we can develop visitor economy infrastructure in places where are our visitors go. “
We need to fish where the fish are. As an example, Flagstaff Hill is one of the highest point of visitations in the region, and aside from Mr Whippy, our visitors cannot spend a single cent.
“This doesn’t need necessarily to be heavy built infrastructure. It can be as easy as allowing someone to hire surfboards on our beaches, allow coffee cans in strategic locations, give our visitors opportunities to spend money where they are and create jobs”.
Mr Sleigh said with population in south-west Sydney about to explode, visitor numbers to Wollongong and the South Coast are going to continue to grow.
So it is important to plan effectively to make the most of this opportunity.
“And we need to start now,” he said.