Tourists just can't get enough of Bundy
FIFTY-TWO million - that's the number of reasons Bundaberg tourism operators have to celebrate Christmas this year.
Figures released today by Tourism Research Australia show international visitors parted with $52.1 million while holidaying here for the year ending September, 2017.
The amount represents a massive growth of 33.4 per cent and is in line with positive results for the entire Southern Great Barrier Reef destinations, which recorded an increase of 18% in international visitor numbers.
Surprisingly, the largest number of visitors were from the United Kingdom, with 28,000 - an increase of 26 per cent - followed by Germany with 26,000 visitors, an increase of 36.3%.
New Zealand, America and France round out the top five.
It's also good news when it comes to the number of nights spent in the region, with 2.7 million recorded in the SGBR destinations comprising Bundaberg North Burnett, Gladstone and Capricorn. This is an increase of 22.7 per cent and was largely driven by strong growth in holiday-makers, visits to friends or family, education and business.
Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager Katherine Reid said she was very pleased with the results.
"Our accommodation, food outlets, attractions and reef experiences are all seeing an increase in international visitation,” she said.
"Tourism presents an extremely competitive global marketplace, and to see this sort of consistent result for international visitation and expenditure for our region is truly encouraging for our tourism industry and our collective efforts as the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
"For a destination to effectively play in the international marketplace they need 'trade ready' accommodation, tour product and quality visitor experiences - businesses that are ready to package, contracted with wholesalers and the ability to service different cultural needs.
"With an average length of stay of 17.3 nights for international visitors in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region, tourism is definitely a strong driver of economic prosperity in the regions.”
The Southern Great Barrier Reef marketing partnership - Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd and Capricorn Enterprise - has invested heavily in marketing the destination internationally, with a strong focus on Western hemisphere markets over the last five years.
Capricorn Enterprise chief executive Mary Carroll praised the partnership.
"After years of collaborating and targeting our limited resources and funds to specific international western markets, the results speak for themselves,” Ms Carroll said.
"Our recent investment in our first ever SGBR sales trip to Germany will build on this success.
"We have seen particular growth in the UK, Germany and France markets to Great Keppel and Pumpkin islands, which have positively affected our mainland trade-ready operators on the Capricorn Coast, Rockhampton region and Central Highlands”.
Darryl Branthwaite, CEO of GAPDL, was just as enthusiastic.
"These results are a positive indication that the partnership we have with SGBR - pooling our resources - is resulting in this region developing a solid base with amazing experiences, such as Heron and Lady Musgrave islands, which are world class, now competing on a world stage, driving our local economies, which employs about 9600 people across the region's tourism industry,” he said.
"The future for these regions and the SGBR is incredibly bright.”
For businesses in the Bundaberg North Burnett interested in learning more about engaging with international markets, BNBT run trade workshops and mentoring programs on an annual basis.
Click here for more information on resources available or to email your expression of interest in a program for 2018-19.
The International Visitor Survey is released quarterly and gives a snapshot of the year-on-year results for Australia and each state.