INTERNATIONAL tourism spending growth on the Gold Coast has surged past the national average, rising 20 per cent to $1.23 billion in 2015.
The increase compares with 18 per cent growth in spending to $36.6 billion across the broader Australian market, according to Tourism Research Australia's international visitor survey.
The national figures are the best since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, driven by the lower Australian dollar and a renewed marketing push spearheaded by the Restaurant Australia campaign.
Tourism growth is also being aided by a 13 per cent lift in revenue from international students to almost $20 billion nationally.
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that close to 500,000 foreign students were studying in Australia last year, with 80,000 of them in Queensland.
"The continued growth in international visitor expenditure for the Gold Coast is astounding," says Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter.
While the Chinese have driven the record Gold Coast numbers, he says the Japanese are also making a return.
The latest figures represent a 47 per cent increase in international visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast over the past three years, says Winter.
While the Gold Coast has seen solid growth from its priority markets, namely the UK (up 6 per cent), Japan (up 3 per cent) and India (up 9 per cent), the number of visitors from the US leapt 25 per cent to 35,000 and South Korea by 22 per cent to 24,000.
"However, it's China that has been the key growth market for the Gold Coast," says Winter.
An extra 40,000 Chinese visitors headed for the Gold Coast in 2015, a rise of 20 per cent to 242,000 compared to 2014. Winter expects the trend to continue this year.
"We're also seeing that international visitors are spending more time on the Gold Coast," he says.
"The average length of stay for an international visitor was up 8 per cent to 11 nights. This has obvious flow on effects for international visitor expenditure, with a new spend per visitor record also reached in 2015.
"Encouragingly, visitors from Japan were up 3 per cent, turning around a long period of decline in this market.
"Even more encouraging is that Japanese visitors are staying longer on the Gold Coast, with the average length for a Japanese visitor to the Gold Coast up 15.4 per cent to 18 nights."
Winter says the Australian Tourism Exchange, to be held for the first time on the Gold Coast later this year, will boost the city's profile further.
"This event will bring over 600 international travel buyers to the Gold Coast and, while the event itself will inject around $10 million into the local economy, the expected international growth prospects this event will provide will continue well into the future," he says.
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