Winter windfall bolsters domestic visitor numbers
AUSTRALIANS are flocking back to the Far North in droves, taking advantage of the warmer weather and putting behind them the fall-out of the global financial crisis and natural disasters, including cyclone Yasi last year.
An extra 360,000 people visited the region in the 12 months to the end of June, totalling 1.63 million and spent an extra $397 million, pouring $1.84 billion into the economy.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland sales and marketing director Brian Hennessy said Australians had returned to the region after a bad start to last year after the cyclone and the floods.
“A pretty lousy summer in Sydney and Melbourne and a lousy winter has helped us as well as people escaped the wet and cold for the warmth,” he said.
“Our weather has been great and the message has been getting through.”
As well as holiday visitors there had been more people attending business events, conferences and the visiting friends and relatives sector, Mr Hennessy said.
Cairns Airport chief executive officer Kevin Brown said the region had “far exceeded the national and state growth levels”.
He said there had been “substantial” additional Jetstar services, an extra daily Virgin service from Brisbane and the reintroduction of Tiger flights from Melbourne in April.
“There has also been an uplift in major events for the region, including the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, which are attracting visitors,” he said.
A Tourism Queensland spokeswoman said the region had recorded growth in all sectors, particularly from Sydney and Melbourne, highlighting the strong recovery in domestic tourism since the cyclone.
A Jetstar spokesman said the figures demonstrated the popularity of Cairns while Virgin Australia’s Melissa Thomson said the airline was pleased to see the quick recovery in the region’s domestic market.
Tiger spokeswoman Vanessa Regan said its daily daytime return service coupled with a long, cold winter in southern states had contributed to creating strong demand from Melbourne for travel to Cairns.
The Far North is the seventh most popular holiday destination for Australians after the five main capital cities and the Gold Coast.
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They're back: Domestic visitor numbers are on the rise this winter.