Sydney travellers rediscover love affair with Cairns
SYDNEYSIDERS have fallen in love again with the Far North, returning in growing numbers to holiday after a lull of several years.About 107,000 visitors from the New South Wales capital visited the tropical north to the year ended September, 2012, a 40 per cent rise on the 67,000 last year.
An extra 50,000 people from the southern state visited the region, totalling nearly 170,000.
Overall 1.5 million Australians visited the region, a 10 per cent increase or an extra 150,000 people, with holidaymakers up 12 per cent to 809,000.
A Tourism Queensland spokeswoman said the Tourism Research Australia's National Visitor Survey figures revealed a trend towards holidaying closer to home across Australia, Queensland and the Far North.
She said people from within the state were strong from regional Queensland and Brisbane residents, returning to levels not seen since the weather events of 2011.
"Queenslanders holidaying in tropical north Queensland increased 30 per cent to 443,000 in the year to September 2012," the spokeswoman said.
"The results also revealed many Australians also opted to stay with friends and family when visiting the region, almost doubling to 323,000 in the year to September 2012.
"Business visitation declined sharply with travel relating to flood recovery efforts likely to have boosted the business visitation results in the prior year."
Australians spent $1.7 billion, an 8 per cent rise or $132 million more than the year before.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said the figures were "great news".
"It's highlighting the improved year we've had. It's very encouraging and it's making up the ground we have lost," he said.
"We've seen Sydney as a problem child. Sydney has been very stagnant, stuck in recession for us.
"The figures are very surprising, but we are pleased to see they are coming back. It's a strong comeback."
Mr Giason said the growth area of Melbourne was "flat".
"We've had some good growth in the past but with added capacity from Tiger hopefully that will improve," he said.
Mr Giason said a $900,000 Tourism Queensland grant would be used to do direct marketing in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Cairns Convention Centre general manager Ross Steele said the Far North was proving to be more alluring for Australians.
"Our region is starting to get attractive again for domestic travellers prepared to look at Australia instead of going overseas," he said.
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Sun lovin': Soaking up the sun at the Cairns Esplanade is one of the attractions for southern tourists.