Hope floats on tourism stats

BUNDABERG’s international tourism market has been going from strength to strength, according to figures released by Tourism Queensland yesterday.

In the three years to the end of September 2009, international visitors had increased by 10% and international holidaymakers increased by 8% when compared with the three-year period to the end of September 2008.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism (BNBT) chairman Greg Barnes said the international market had traditionally been the region’s weaker area.

“The only concern I have is that backpackers may make up a large portion of that and backpackers traditionally do not spend as much as other travellers,” he said.

Mr Barnes said domestic visitors could have been stronger, with a 5% increase in visitors overall, but a 1% decrease in holidaymakers.

“Vistors” can include people coming to the city for work, visiting family and friends, or coming here on holiday.

“That 1% drop is disappointment but it can be attributed to the economic downturn,” he said.

Mr Barnes said from conversation with tourism operators, the outlook appeared positive.

“Through the information centre, our turtle books were up 26% in November and up 15% in December when compared with the previous year,” he said.

Mr Barnes said BNBT had launched a significant marketing campaign in Australia to try to encourage domestic visitors.

“Our bread and butter is domestic visitors, but if we can get international up that is just a bonus,” he said.

Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Ron Bishop said the good tourism news had been reflected in local businesses.

“I don’t think it’s really shocked too many people. We have had quite a successful past few months,” Mr Bishop said.

Mr Bishop said in a recent telephone survey he did, four out of five businesses had been happy with how the local economy had been travelling in the lead-up to Christmas last year.

Bundaberg Regional Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said it was a positive sign that there had been an increase in people visiting to see family and friends in the region.

“That is a very encouraging sign for proposals to discount airlines who might be considering coming to Bundaberg,” Cr Pyefinch said.

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