OVERSEAS VISITOR SPENDING CRACKS $1.1B

OVERSEAS VISITOR SPENDING CRACKS $1.1B

INTERNATIONAL visitor expenditure has hit an all-time high on the Gold Coast, with more than 850,000 tourists spending $1.109 billion in the city during the year to the end of September.

Figures released by Tourism Research Australia show that Australia is experiencing a period of strong growth in tourism with international visitors spending a record $34.8 billion across the board.

This figure is up 13 per cent for the year to the end of September and is the highest percentage growth in total trip spend since 2001.

Education is a growing driver for international visitors, with visitation up 19 per cent and nights up 18 per cent. Total trip spend for education visitors increased by 27 per cent for the year to $8.2 billion, which drove 43 per cent of the overall increase.

Looking at the Gold Coast, over the last three years, international visitor expenditure has increased by an average of 10.5 per cent per annum.

"This strong and sustained growth has seen the Gold Coast playing in the same league as capital city competitors Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane," says Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter.

Since 2012, inbound tourism to the Gold Coast has increased by an average of 5.9 per cent per annum to reach 872,000 in the year ending September 2015.

The Gold Coast's largest inbound market, China, continued to drive visitor growth in 2015 with 213,000 Chinese visitors to the city, marking an impressive 14.7 per cent increase during the reporting period.

"We expect the new direct services from central China to the Gold Coast, coupled with the level of Chinese investment in tourism infrastructure in the city, will see this growth continue over the coming years," says Winter.

Visitors from the Gold Coast's second-largest market, New Zealand, were up 2.1 per cent, while the UK was up 6 per cent and South Korea up 10.4 per cent in the 12 months to September 2015.

"Although visitors from Japan were down 2.9 per cent, over the past six to 12 months we've seen the average length of stay continue to rise," says Winter.

"What's more, the new services from Tokyo into Brisbane are likely to help turn this around and could see this market return to growth in the near future."

NSW was the most visited state, attracting 3.4 million tourists in the recording period followed by Victoria with 2.3 million and Queensland with 2.2 million.

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