Coffs Coast targeting overseas visitors
THE state government has been warned its push to double the tourism spend in New South Wales by 2020 is "getting out of reach", with most regional centres ill-equipped to handle the upswing.
Overnight visitor expenditure state-wide is supposed to increase from $18.3 billion in 2009 to $36.6 billion in 2020.
The latest Tourism Accommodation Australia Report suggested that target was unlikely to be met and that a renewed focus on getting international visitors into the regions was needed.
While other parts of the state languish, David Laarhoven, from Coffs Coast Tourism, said this region was already booming and had overtaken Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast in domestic overnight visitor numbers.
"We are the third-highest region in Australia for domestic visitation - it's grown that much," he said.
"We obviously have the metropolitan Sydney market, but the North Coast region is in its prime at the moment."
The region drew 65,000 international visitors last year, who spent $21 million, and about 697,000 overnight domestic holiday-makers, who shelled out $319 million.
Mr Laarhoven said there was room for improvement on the international front and it was already underway.
"If the Australian dollar continues to fall, people won't want to go to Bali or South-East Asia," he said.
"It also means the cost-value will be better for that South-East Asian market to come here."
The struggle for regional NSW is to get visitors to stay longer and spend more.
Six in 10 visitors to regional NSW are domestic day trippers, 36.8% are domestic overnight visitors and only 1.5% are international visitors - the worst of any state except regional Victoria.
The visitor night mix in regional NSW is 85.7% domestic overnight and 14.3% international, the lowest in Australia except regional South Australia and Victoria.
Mr Laarhoven said consistent government funding for existing and start-up tourism businesses was needed to increase those figures.
COFFS HARBOUR TOURISM STATS 2013
Total visitors: 1.59 billion
Overnight visitors: 762,000
Total nights: 2.58 billion
Annual expenditure: 434 million
TOP FIVE INTERNATIONAL VISITORS 2013