Tourism industry to hitch a ride on backpacker market
Written on the 12 May 2009
TOURISM operators are banking on the Gold Coast’s $126 million-a-year backpacker market to offset dwindling visitor numbers to the region.
The Gold Coast is vying to become Australia’s No.1 backpacker and adventure travel destination as it focuses on the constantly growing sector. In the past 12 months the region has welcomed 132,749 backpackers.
Research shows that it is one of the few segments to have increased in visitor numbers and subsequent spend in the last 12 months, eclipsing the once mainstay Japanese market, which accounted for just 116,000 visitors over the same period.
Gold Coast Adventure Travel Group (GCATG) president Tim Groves, says the natural growth of the backpacker segment has been positive, but with a concerted effort the city could leverage more market share from other destinations.
“We have made headway in recent years by aligning the efforts of the Gold Coast Adventure Travel Group, Gold Coast Tourism and Gold Coast City Council, but we are still an under-appreciated destination for many backpackers and adventure travellers,” says Groves.
“Gold Coast has about a third of the total Queensland backpacker market share and almost a quarter of the total national figure but we are yet to really cement our position as the No.1 backpacker destination. That will come as we are rapidly developing more product, better marketing and a clearer message for this segment.”
Long held industry misconceptions of backpackers as low yield, short stay visitors have shifted. The segment, which includes the traditional backpacker, adventure traveller, flash packer and grey nomad is proving to be one of the most active tourist groups.
The profile of the backpacker demographic has emerged from the traditional 18 to 26-year-old European traveller to include a strong Asian contingent.
Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter, says the Gold Coast holds an important position in the national backpacker landscape.
“We are a destination known for fun, entertainment, value and variety so we connect with adventure travellers very well. They know a complete mix of natural and man made experiences is waiting on the Gold Coast,” he says.
“Add to that our location along the east coast route, our low cost air access, our 60,000 bed spaces of all levels, our 70km of beach, our 100,000ha of world heritage rainforest, our 500 restaurants and bars, and our welcoming attitude.”
Gold Coast Tourism is undergoing a marketing renaissance following the demise of its failed Very GC campaign.