Queensland fights back for tourism crown
QUEENSLAND is back baby!
After years of losing ground to southern states, Queensland has fought back in the battle for the title of Australia's tourism capital.
Statistics to be released today by Tourism Research Australia cover the year ending in September but will come as a belated Christmas present to the state's tourism industry.
Travel data almost always reports increases in visitor numbers and spending, but for the first time in years, Queensland has made up ground against southern rivals NSW and Victoria.
Queensland now welcomes almost 20 per cent of the country's international visitors - an increase of 1.1 per cent - and almost 27 per cent of the domestic holiday market - up 1.3 per cent.
While the increases aren't huge, they eclipse NSW and Victoria, which went backwards in some categories.
NSW has long enjoyed the most visitors - partly due to its bigger population and having the country's biggest international airport - but the new figures have Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones confident the state is on the right track.
"These figures show our strategy to grow Queensland's tourism industry is working," she said.
"The data proves we're outperforming NSW and Victoria.
"Our share of the cash international tourists spend in Australia grew more than all other states, and international visitor expenditure grew 11.5 per cent - more than double the Australian rate."
Queensland also saw record highs in international visitor numbers, with 2,762,000 tourists spending $5.9 billion in the state.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the figures were a show of confidence in Queensland.
"It's wonderful to see record numbers of international travellers keen to experience the magic of Queensland, with its many iconic tourist destinations, from the Sunshine Coast all the way up to the Daintree and even beyond," he said.
Domestic figures were also outstanding for much of regional Queensland, with the Whitsundays (up 34 per cent), Townsville (27 per cent), Fraser Coast (24 per cent), Capricorn Coast (16 per cent), Tropical North Queensland (15 per cent) and Bundaberg (10 per cent) all recording double-digit visitor growth.
Tourism and Events Queensland chief executive Leanne Coddington said the strength of the state's "Your Perfect Next" marketing campaign was reflected in the rise in visitors and spending.
"The year ahead is exciting and full of opportunity for Queensland's tourism operators, with these results providing positive momentum from which to strive for further growth," she said.
FOREIGN GUESTS SPLASH OUT
INTERNATIONAL tourists are digging deeper into their wallets while in Queensland, with spending soaring by more than it is in NSW and Victoria.
The amount shelled out by foreign visitors in Queensland rose by 12 per cent last year, new figures reveal.
And Brisbane has emerged as the new hot spot for big-spending international guests, with expenditure in the capital up a whopping 20 per cent, the data, to be released today, shows.
The opening of new five-star hotels and expensive restaurants in Brisbane has helped drive up the amount tourists are spending in the capital.
Queensland is the third-fastest-growing tourism market in terms of spending after Tasmania and the ACT, both of which are coming off much lower bases.
Foreign tourists spent more in NSW ($10.6 billion) and Victoria ($8.3 billion) than Queensland ($5.9 billion) in the year to September, but the two largest southern states are growing much slower.
Spending in NSW inched up just 2 per cent, while Victoria grew by 9 per cent, compared to the Sunshine State's 12 per cent surge.
It's a trend that rings true for Italian tourist Gianna Carraro and her daughter, Selene Bragato.
"Brisbane's weather and ambience is so much nicer than Sydney, so the people seem to be so much more relaxed here," said Ms Bragato. "Brisbane is also a better city for young people."
The pair said they had spent a lot of money on restaurants in the city.
"We spend a lot more going out to eat than we would at home," said Ms Carraro.
"Sometimes we eat out for every meal of the day, and we've been spending a lot of money getting around."