Debbie failed to dent Whitsunday tourism growth
THE Whitsundays defied the odds to record another increase in visitor numbers and expenditure last financial year, despite the final quarter being marred by Cyclone Debbie.
Total visitor numbers were up 3.5% on the previous year, with domestic visitor numbers increasing 0.5 per cent and international visitor number increasing by 8.7 per cent.
The small decrease in domestic holiday visitors was more than off-set by an increase in business visitors.
PRD Whitsunday Principal, Christie Leet, said the Whitsundays had recorded strong growth in visitor numbers and total spend for the previous two years, making the latest consolidation even more significant.
“There is no doubt tourism is firing in the Whitsunday and not even a cyclone could dampen the economy or the spirit of the locals,” he said.
“The construction boom that comes with some rebuilding work will continue as we enter a new construction phase to meet growing demand for accommodation.”
Whitsunday accommodation houses have given the “no vacancy” sign a regular workout in the past two years as peak holiday times see the region booked out.
International tourism, which took a hit in 2009 and 2010 when the Australian dollar reached parity with the US dollar, has grown consistently stronger every year since 2012.
Mr Leet said 241,000 international visitors came to the Whitsundays last financial year, accounting for almost a third (32 per cent) of all overnight visitors.
“While Germany and the UK dominate the source countries, there is increasing interest from Asia, with China and Japan recording growth of 21.9% and 33.5%, respectively,” he said.
“These figures are great news for locals as they ensure jobs and prosperity for the region into the future.
“A diverse range of visitors, with increasing numbers and expenditure, means jobs in the tourism industry and also jobs in construction as demand increases.”
Mr Leet said demand was already becoming a driver for construction of more accommodation properties, which also presented an opportunity for local investors.
“Locals are very aware of the property market cycle and how the Whitsundays is coming off a decade of depressed sales,” he said.
“There is a lot of potential for capital gain in tourism-related properties right now because the costs are so but starting to rise.
“At the same time, we have a thriving tourism industry to support the local economy in the years ahead and make investments more secure.”