Solar eclipse in Cairns injects $135 million into economy
THE total solar eclipse last month delivered a $135 million bonanza to the Far North's economy.Figures obtained from economic development group Advance Cairns reveal the November 14 eclipse was "conservatively" worth $111 million while the "most likely scenario" was $135 million. It is nearly double the pre-eclipse estimate of $75 million. The conservative figure is based on 50,000 visitors while the higher figure uses 60,000 people for the calculations.
Eclipse project leader Margaret Darveniza said the astronomical event provided "the biggest ever economic impact for a single event on our local economy."
She said retail, accommodation, food service and transport industries benefited the most.
"This figure does not include expenditure by the local community (estimated at $2.5 million), five cruise ships anchored off Cairns and Port Douglas and business expenditure from festival and event organisers," Ms Darveniza said.
She said research showed the celestial event drew between 50,000 to 60,000 visitors to the region, based on accommodation capacity, airport arrivals and festival attendance.
"The great news is this produced positive effects for our entire region, not just Cairns," Ms Darveniza said.
"Visitors calling in at visitor centres on the Tablelands were up 90 per cent for November, Cassowary Coast was up 25 per cent and Cairns was up 22 per cent compared to the same time last year. The economic impact was felt from Innisfail to Cooktown."
The eclipse provided Cairns airport with the largest number of arrivals in any single day on record. The busiest day for arrivals was Nov 12 with nearly 8000 passengers, a 70 per cent increase. (See separate story)
Advance Cairns chief executive officer Stewart Christie said the results were better than expected.
"There's no doubt there will be a long-term impact from the international exposure our region gained from this memorable event," he said.
Mr Christie said the organisation had devoted three years of planning and coordination and chaired the Solar Eclipse Regional Taskforce.
"This is a perfect example of how regional collaboration can produce the greatest results for our economy," he said.
The economic assessment report said calculations were based on visitors only and did not include any residential spending figures.
"If the population of the region is about 250,000 people and a conservative 10 per cent of those people each spent $100 (fuel, breakfasts, viewing glasses etc) that would add an extra $2.5 million direct output," it said.
The figures do not include day trippers, including the passengers and crew on board the five cruise ships that visited either Cairns or Port Douglas, nor the construction or business expenditure of festival organisers.
"60,000 visitors is considered to be a reasonable expectation given the capacity of the commercial accommodation sector, anecdotal evidence of visiting friends and relatives and attendance at the Palmer River Festival of about 10,000.
" A survey of local businesses indicates that nearly half of respondents had at least some positive impact."
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