Aussies give Gold Coast tourism record $6.1b boost as spending rises faster than visitor numbers

Aussies give Gold Coast tourism record $6.1b boost as spending rises faster than visitor numbers

Photo credit: Faris Kassim via Unsplash

Australian tourists poured a record $6.1 billion into the Gold Coast economy in 2022, a massive jump on the previous year that was partly driven by inflation as the industry finally declared a return to more normalised trading patterns for the glitter strip.

As the Gold Coast heads into the Easter break, one of its busiest holiday periods of the year, the city’s peak tourism body, Destination Gold Coast, has revealed the city welcomed 11.4 million visitors in 2022 – still down from the industry peak of 14.4 million visitors in 2019.

However, a breakdown of the data shows the extent of spending that has driven the record result.

While the Gold Coast welcomed 4.1 million domestic fly-in visitors, an increase of 27.3 per cent on the previous year, visitor spending surged 81.5 per cent higher to $5.1 billion, a figure buoyed by higher hotel room rates and entertainment expenses.

Even the traditionally tight-wadded drive market loosened its purse strings over the year, with the Gold Coast recording a 14.2 per cent lift in drive visitors to 7.3 million who spent a record $947.7 million – up 42.6 per cent.

The combined data, which excludes international visitors, delivered record tourism numbers and spend for the Gold Coast over the past year.

The figures were drawn from the New National Visitor Survey released by Tourism Research Australia which revealed the first full year of travel that was free of travel pandemic travel restrictions.

The data shows that domestic overnight visitor numbers across Australia rose to 108.2 million during the year, up 31.8 per cent, with spending at a record $101.3 billion – up 66.7 per cent.

Destination Gold Coast’s Rachel Hancock says interstate visitors to the Gold Coast were at record highs with 2.3 million heading to the tourism capital in 2022.

“This included a record 1.3 million visitors from NSW, up 2.1 per cent on 2019 in addition to 707,000 visitors from Victoria, up 10.8 per cent on 2019,” Hancock says.

“The early rise in interstate visitors in 2022, particularly from Melbourne, has abated slightly. However, their overall numbers helped set a record for overnight visitor expenditure.

“At the same time, daytrip visitors to the Gold Coast continued to show their support with 7.3 million day-trippers who also set a record for expenditure.

“With continued growth, a return to 2019 visitor numbers in 2023 remains a strong possibility.”

Destination Gold Coast says inflationary pressures on tourism industry inputs have become ‘more acute’ in the past few months which has affected spending patterns by tourists.

Hancock adds that the surge in travel due to pent-up demand after lockdowns over the past year is back to normalised levels.

“The Easter school holidays is worth over $173 million to our visitor economy from the domestic market alone according to AEC modelling, so it’s a very important visitation period as we head towards winter which is traditionally softer,” Hancock says.

“We are anticipating accommodation providers will be at 75 per cent capacity this weekend, and whilst down on last year, we are now seeing a return to more normalised numbers – although we are still looking to reach pre-pandemic levels.

“Let’s not forget that we are responding to the continuing changes in a highly dynamic external environment which is being impacted by cost-of-living increases, rising interest rates, changing consumer demand and taste, and increased competition globally.”

Hancock concedes there is ‘still plenty of work to do’ on the Gold Coast to bring interstate and international markets back to pre-pandemic levels.

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