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Domestic visitors spend up in Tropical North Queensland

Australian visitors spent a record $2.7 billion in Tropical North Queensland during 2021 despite the loss of the key Sydney and Melbourne markets for much of the year, according to the National Visitor Survey.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said overnight domestic visitor expenditure was up 9.3 per cent from 2019 on the back of record intrastate visitation of 1.5 million.

“TTNQ has been actively targeting the Australian travellers who would typically travel overseas and this has helped increase spend per night by 20 per cent on pre-COVID levels to $269 with an average of $1383 spent on each holiday,” he said.

“We have worked very hard to push our world-class experiences as a necessary part of any holiday in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and visitors are increasingly choosing quality accommodation for their stay.

“TTNQ partnered with Tourism and Events Queensland on campaigns such as Cairns Holiday Dollars which highlighted the many experiences that international visitors enjoy.

“We needed to change the holiday mindset of domestic travellers wanting a fly and flop holiday to ensure our world-class experiences were supported.

“These figures show the strategy worked and our strong eco-luxury campaign activity should continue to educate Australians that our destination’s regenerative tourism experiences are just what they need.

“Marketing targeting our seasons also helped combat visitor numbers being decimated by winter lockdowns resulting in Australians discovering that summer is when the water clarity is at its best on the Great Barrier Reef while the warm summer rain brings the rainforest and waterfalls to life.”

Mr Olsen said total domestic visitor numbers grew 37 per cent from 2020 to 2 million, but remained 11 per cent below pre-COVID levels.

“The strongest growth came from Brisbane residents with an increase of 10.8 per cent to a record 291,000 compared to 2019,” he said.

“Just 460,000 of our visitors were from interstate, which is not surprising given continued border closures throughout 2021.

“The year started slowly with airport passengers dropping back to 34 per cent of pre-COVID levels in February, followed by record growth over Easter and into the start of winter before Victorian borders closed in July.

“This saw airport passenger numbers drop in August to just 11 per cent of pre-COVID numbers, the lowest levels since the pandemic began.

“Visitors from Adelaide contributed to our interstate arrivals, but passenger numbers remained low until the Queensland borders re-opened to New South Wales and Victoria in mid-December.”