German tourists Mareike Weber (left) and Hanna Scheuffele, pictured on the beach at Ballina, love the region.
German tourists Mareike Weber (left) and Hanna Scheuffele, pictured on the beach at Ballina, love the region. cathy adams

Tourists spending more in our area

GERMAN travellers Hanna Scheuffele and Mareike Weber felt like they had discovered a little bit of paradise when they arrived in Ballina this week.

“It’s just beautiful,” Hanna, 20, said.

“I didn’t know it was like this here. After I take the campervan back to Brisbane, I’m going to come back to this area for work.”

The girls, who were soaking up the sunshine by the Richmond River yesterday morning, aren’t the only ones who have enjoyed a break on the North Coast.

More than $1.3 billion was spent by people visiting the Northern Rivers in 2008/09, according to new figures from Tourism Research Australia.

This has cemented tourism as one of the region’s biggest industries.

In the past industries such as agriculture, including beef and forestry, manufacturing, and construction have dominated the Northern Rivers’ economy.

But tourism is now a key player and it is a trend that has been welcomed by Northern Rivers Tourism.

Chief executive Russell Mills said the area was becoming more popular and that more money was being spent.

“The key trend to emerge is that total tourism expenditure has increased by 18 per cent to $1.3 billion,” he said.

“It’s good to see that people are spending.

“Obviously our goal is to generate more dollars for the region.

“The total number of domestic day visitors has also increased by 16.5pc.

“About half of our visitors come from Queensland.

“Because South-East Queensland is the fastest- growing urban area in Australia a lot of the increase has been because of population growth.

“The marketing that we’re doing is keeping it on the boil and keeping us front-of-mind.

“Over the long term our region has become popular.”

But on the other side of the coin, domestic overnight visitors have decreased by 13.5pc.

Mr Mills said that was consistent with trends across Australia.

“It’s a sign of increasing affluence and the ability of Australians to go overseas for a holiday, maybe to Bali or Thailand,” he said.

“Also, a lot of people put off travelling in their own country until later in life.

“People in the 20 to 30-year-old bracket are less likely to holiday in Australia.

“That’s where things like Bluesfest can attract young people to our region.

“There’s certainly still some work to do in encouraging Australians to holiday in Australia, and a lot of that comes back to effective marketing.

“We have a lot to offer different demographics.”

HOW TOURISTS SPEND MONEY

Transport and air fares: $62 million.

Accommodation: $263m.

Food and drink: $395m.

Fuel: $174m.

Shopping: $202m.

Entertainment: $26m

(excludes spending by international visitors).

Figures courtesy Tourism Research Australia



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