Written on the 6 June 2011


FIGURES released today by Tourism Research Australia show a six per cent decline in international visitation in the March quarter, but China numbers are up by 14 per cent.

More worrying for the Gold Coast’s battling tourism sector is that the average tourist spend continues to decline at a faster rate.

The latest quarterly figures show international visitation dropped to 783,000 in the year up to March 2011, down from about 900,000 international tourists in the year ending December 2010.

Given the natural disasters during the period, Gold Coast Tourism (GCT) CEO Martin Winter says the six per cent fall in annual international visitors to March 2011 was ‘not unexpected’.

The telling figure however is that the average international visitor spend declined by 13 per cent to $886 million – more than double the rate of visitation decline.

Winter has outlined his strategy to attract higher yield tourists to Gold Coast Business News several times this year.

“We can now see just how much impact the Christchurch earthquake and Northern Japan earthquake and tsunami had on visitor arrivals from these source markets in the first quarter of 2011, the decline is unfortunate but not unexpected,” says Winter.

“The test for the Gold Coast tourism industry is how we bounce back from the uncontrollable events of early 2011, and how we combat the record high Australian dollar which is reducing international visitor expenditure in the region.”

In a rare bout of positive news for tourism on the Gold Coast, the new South-East Asian target market appears to have gathered traction.

Chinese visitation increased by 14 per cent during the March quarter to 121,000 visitors, representing the second highest source market after New Zealand (188,000, down 9%). Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are also driving visitation to the region and have proven to be less affected by a high US dollar.

“One long term strategy which is now delivering results is the diversification of the Gold Coast’s international visitor base, with increased efforts and resources dedicated to non-traditional or emerging source markets such as China and Hong Kong as well as resurgent markets like Korea,” says Winter.

International Visitors and Spend on the Gold Coast

- International Visitors = 783,000 (-6%)
- International Visitor Spend = $886 million (-13%)

Top Three International Source Markets for the Gold Coast

- New Zealand Visitors = 188,000 (-9%)
- China Visitors = 121,000 (+14%)
- Japan Visitors = 97,000 (-15%)

Best Performing International Source Markets by Visitor Growth

- Malaysia Visitors = 31,000 (+15%)
- Singapore Visitors = 25,000 (+14%)
- China Visitors = 121,000 (+14%)
- Hong Kong Visitors = 18,000 (+6%)






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