GOLD Coast Tourism’s (GCT) strategy to target the domestic drive market appears to have paid off, with Tourism Research Australia statistics showing a 33 per cent jump in daytrip visitors for the year ending March 2011.
Around 7.4 million visitors spent the day on the Gold Coast during the period, spending $751 million before returning home – 7 cent less than the corresponding period last year.
Domestic overnight visitation also received a 7 per cent boost for the year, with 3.4 million tourists bunking down in Gold Coast hotels for the night.
GCT CEO Martin Winter attributes the results to a better than expected tourism recovery in 2010 and a strong marketing response by the industry immediately after the natural disasters of January and February 2011.
“The Gold Coast tourism industry was gaining momentum in 2010 with improving visitor arrivals and visitor expenditure results, the events of early 2011 really dragged that progress back,” says Winter.
“But the Gold Coast tourism industry responded immediately with an aggressive approach straight to market and a $1 million campaign by Gold Coast Tourism to tell Australians that the Gold Coast was ready to welcome them, I am certain some result of that effort is captured in these numbers.”
Despite international visitation lagging (read full story here), the domestic visitation numbers boost the Gold Coast’s overall visitation up 21 per cent to 11.6 million.
Winter however is the first to admit the problem isn’t necessarily attracting tourists to the region, but getting them to spend significant cash while they’re here.
His sentiment is reflected in the numbers: domestic overnight visitors are up 7 per cent, but their spend is down 7 per cent; international visitation is down 6 per cent, but their spend is down 13 per cent; and while daytrippers increased by 33 per cent, their economic injection didn’t increase proportionately (up 26 per cent).
Perhaps the most telling figure is the 21 per cent increase in total visitation still led to a 4 per cent drop in overall spending ($4.3 billion).
“The numbers also show that the Gold Coast is not immune to the declining national expenditure trend, we attracted more visitors but they are spending less, just as they are in the retail and other commercial sectors,” says Winter.
“Increasing visitor expenditure is the main focus of the Gold Coast Tourism destination marketing plan for the next 12 months, we must convert the demand into yield.”
Last month Gold Coast Business News spoke at length with Martin Winter about how GCT will increase the average tourist yield. Click here to revisit the story.
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