Written on the 16 December 2015

THE tide has turned for Gold Coast tourist numbers with the latest data showing a rise in overnight visitor numbers for the year to the end of September.

The latest figures, from Tourism Research Australia's National Visitor Survey, puts an end to a two-year slide in visitors heading for the Glitter Strip.

The survey reveals domestic overnight visitors to the Gold Coast rose 3.2 per cent to 3.5 million for the year to the end of September, a figure that was aided by the falling Aussie dollar and rising property development activity over the period.

"Tourism Research Australia's National Visitor Survey and other indicators suggest tourism on the Gold Coast is stronger than it's been in a number of years," says Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter.

"While we've seen significant growth in international visitors, the Australian market remains a critical ingredient for the continued success of our industry.

"Despite competition from capital city destinations and the burgeoning cruise industry, the number of domestic overnight visitors to the Gold Coast has trended upwards over the past three years at an average rate of 1.1 per cent per annum.

"Encouragingly our core markets, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, recorded growth during the period, as did the number of business visitors."

Winter expects business travel to play a bigger role in tourism figure over the next few years, driven by major infrastructure investments, extensive product development and the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Development applications have surged almost 25 per cent on the Gold Coast in the past year to 3944, driven by strong demand for apartments in the golden triangle between Southport, Surfers Paradise and Boadbeach.

The latest tourism figures are also backed up by strong passenger growth through Gold Coast Airport which saw more than five million domestic passenger movements for the year to the end of September. This was 170,000, or 3 per cent, more than a year earlier.

Gold Coast Airport's chief operating officer Marion Charlton is expecting record numbers in December thanks to a 7.9 per cent increase in flights in and out of the Gold Coast compared to a year ago.

Winter says despite the two-year decline in tourism numbers, growth in the Gold Coast's accommodation sector has outperformed the national average.

"Over the last two years, average occupancy on the Gold Coast has increased by 6 per cent to 72.3 per cent, while revenue per available room has increased by an impressive 16 per cent," he says.

"There's certainly a renewed appetite for the Gold Coast's tourism offering.

"Visitation to VisitGoldCoast.com is sitting 38 per cent higher than the same period last year and, importantly, the number of leads to member products has almost doubled to more than 160,000 in just five months."





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