EXCLUSIVE: What's so special about Byron Bay?
WHEN holidaymakers visit Byron Bay they are enjoying cocktails and tapas and laying on the beach - and spending a lot of money doing so, according to new tourism research.
Destination Byron has released the first ever analysis of the Byron Shire's domestic day visitor market, revealing 1.1 million visitors spent $140 million in total for the year ending September 2018.
This equated to $124 being spent per visit, per day.
Over the past five years - to year ending September 2018 - the major expenditure categories for day trippers were:
- Alcohol, drinks at $36m
- Takeaways and restaurant meals at $151m
- Shopping at $78m
- Entertainment at $18m
According to the report, day visitor numbers reached the 1 million mark in the year ending March 2017 and haven't dropped below since.
Destination Byron revealed most of the visitors over five years came from the Gold Coast, and large proportions from the North Coast and Brisbane.
"There seems to be long-term momentum coming from south east Queensland for Byron Shire," president David Jones said.
"As soon as you cross the Tweed River you basically enter that volcanic caldera, which is basically the rim of the volcano that runs from Tweed Heads all the way down to Byron Bay.
"Something really beautiful happens - as soon as you cross that Tweed River you enter this really lush, green food-bowl.
"You hit those cane fields and the population density drops off dramatically.
"The scenery, the pace, everything is just a lot slower and more beautiful so I'm not surprised that everything south of the Tweed River is becoming a much more attractive composition to our weary urbanites north of the river.
"That's for Gold Coast and Brisbane, they are both becoming quite dense urban environments with very good population growth."
To qualify and be recorded as a day visitor the destination must be at least 50km from home, the trip must be at least four hours in length, it can't involve an overnight stay and not travel to/from work or as part of a job, and can't be to the same place to do the same thing at least once a week.
Ms Jones said for people living in south-east Queensland Byron Bay is in the geographical "sweet spot" and has the right mix of food and nature.
"Those people that have those hectic commutes and 9-5 jobs and are competing with each other to get into the gym, the restaurant and the grocery store are looking for a bit of decompression and they have to do that by getting across that Tweed River," Mr Jones said.
"Why Byron would be their number one target ... is because of the diversity of the experience and the diversity of the culture. It's really about the shopping, the food, this sort of magical mixture of all of those combined.
"It's also conveniently that one hour drive - which is sort of what most people would prefer to cap at their maximum drive."
Unsurprisingly the report revealed the day visitor market was very weekend-centric, with Sunday the busiest day of the week.
But May is the busiest day tripper month of the year.
"Everyone's over the Christmas / Easter pace and sort of hibernating for the coming months so now they're sort of entering that nurturing, still quiet, gentle lifestyle and that's where a weekend trip away is the most appetising," Mr Jones said.
"There's not too many destinations around Australia that have such a big mix of day visitor versus overnight.
"When we are talking about the visitor economy in the Byron Shire a very big part of that is people in a car visiting just for the day.
"Now's the time for everyone to start getting their mind around that not all tourists, or visitors are the enemy or your friends. They are all very different in how they interact with the shire."