BYE FOR NOW: Departing backpackers Richard Morrison and Pamela Eakin of Northern Ireland say farewell to Byron Bay. DAVID NIELS
BYE FOR NOW: Departing backpackers Richard Morrison and Pamela Eakin of Northern Ireland say farewell to Byron Bay. DAVID NIELS

Tourism figures on the increase



INTERNATIONAL tourists are flocking to the Northern Rivers and spending more money when they arrive.

Foreign tourists spent $104 million in the Northern Rivers last year 5 per cent more than in 2005, new tourism%figures reveal.

After spending up big, backpackers Pamela Eakin and Richard Morrison, from Northern Ireland, were jumping back on the bus last Friday after a two-day stay in Byron.

We spent $300 each, mostly on food and accommodation, I think," said Richard.

I don't even know where we've spent it, actually, but it's easy to do," said Pamela.

The two medical students were travelling up the east coast of Australia together, after completing their studies in Sydney and Melbourne.

International visitors spent $510 million in regional New South Wales last year, according to the latest Tourism Research Australia figures.

Matthew Hingerty, managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, said it was a testament to the importance of tourism to Australia's regional economies.

Mr Hingerty said many regions showed big increases in international visitor spending. Overall, foreign tourists stayed an average 20.4 nights in the State up three nights.

They also spent an average of $1896 during their visit. According to Mr Hingerty, it could be a key pointer for local tourism operators trying to achieve growth in their businesses.

With a relatively flat domestic tourism market, for many regions the real potential lies in growing their share of the international tourism pie," he said.



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