Conscious of the impact of the bushfires both on our southern State counterparts and on our local operators, TTNQ’s marketing efforts have been delayed by a few weeks to ensure we are striking a balance in the market.
With conditions starting to improve we have relaunched our social media push, engaged with major trade partners to kick off our campaign activity and announced that the Drive North Queensland partnership is being relaunched to the domestic market in 2020. This aims to tap into the growing interest by families and couples to stay closer to home and embark on a trip where they can connect with each other. We are also launching tactical activities in February and March in the interstate markets. Internationally we are working with our trade partners, Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland to ensure the message is clear that we are unaffected and ready to share our experiences with the world. We welcome the Federal Government’s announcement of a $76 million tourism recovery package to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping get tourists travelling across Australia again.
The latest NVS and IVS data shows that the drive market has shown strong growth again, following three years of activities by TTNQ and the industry to better disperse visitors throughout the region. The latest Visitor Survey figures are a reflection of the region’s resilience and its diversity of markets, with the domestic market showing strong growth in spend (up 5.7% year on year) and volume (up 8.5%) offsetting a mixed year in the international markets (up just 1.2%).
This growth in the domestic market comes off the back of a $1 million investment in domestic marketing by TTNQ, TEQ and Cairns Regional Council in the first phase of the region’s $2.8 million domestic campaign.
The region’s results in key international markets varied by country and region with a reduction in numbers from the United Kingdom and Europe (down 9% and 9.8% respectively), offset by growth in the United States and Canadian markets (up 8% and 10%). On balance, the region slightly exceeded its 2018 results through an increase in China (up 3.8%) and Japan (up 2%) from a strong year of campaign activity with Tourism and Events Queensland.
International visitor numbers were slightly down (2.7%) with the exception of the education market (up by more than 1,500 students year on year). International visitor nights were up 9.7% from an increased average length of stay of nearly one night. The main markets suffering are the UK and Europe from Brexit and negative publicity on the health of the Great Barrier Reef, and New Zealand (down 15%) from increasing domestic competition.
Following a three-year focus on driving the value of the visitor economy, the region has achieved record visitor expenditure of $3.5 billion per annum. That means Tropical North Queensland has reached its 2020 target of delivering $3.5 billion in visitor spend per annum ahead of time.
Overall this is a strong result for the region in an extremely competitive market, however, the region continues to lose State and National market share in all markets due to a shortage of marketing funds and constrained air access. The challenge remains to retain the region’s market share and visitor spend through what is forecast to be a challenging 2020.
In a volatile world we need to focus on growth opportunities close to home while maintaining our core international markets until there is an opportunity to warrant more investment in them. With two-thirds of our visitors from the domestic market and a 67.9% increase in caravan and camping for the year ending September 2019, the drive market will be a key segment for growth.
Our greatest opportunities for growth are in the domestic market, increasing access to Queensland from the US and Canada, the growing Free and Independent Traveller (FIT) travel markets in China (while maintaining our share of the group market), increased frequency from New Zealand, and increased frequency from Singapore creating opportunities across Asia and connections to Europe and the UK. In this crowded marketplace, the only way we can succeed in these markets is to co-invest with industry, government and our trade partners.
The TTNQ team look forward to working with you in 2020.
Chief Executive Officer
22 January 2020