A 40.8% increase in American tourists, a 95% increase in visitor nights by Germans, and continued growth in the New Zealand market saw the Sunshine Coast record a 7.1% increase in international visitor nights to 2.9 million visitor nights in the year ending March 2016.
The International Visitor Survey (IVS) statistics from Tourism Research Australia also revealed that holiday nights spent on the Sunshine Coast were up 29% to 1.6 million, and average length of stay increased 24.2% to 7.7 nights per visit.
International tourism expenditure increased 17.8% to $236 million, close to the highpoint in international expenditure reached in March 2010.
A feature of the latest IVS figures was the growth in the American market. With the ‘Bindi factor’ (the success of Bindi Irwin in America’s Dancing with the Stars) reaching a crescendo in late 2015, the spotlight on the Sunshine Coast translated into a growth rate in US visitors of 40.8%, compared to the Queensland average growth rate of 19% for the same period.
Bindi at AustraliaZooWildlifeHospital_
“The massive increase in international visitor nights and expenditure is a result of our targeted activity in the traditionally long-stay and high-yield American and European markets over the past year,” said acting CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast, Simon Latchford.
“Bindi Irwin’s high profile success in Dancing with the Stars and her focus on her Sunshine Coast home and Australia Zoo have created a very positive image for the region, and our marketing campaigns in Germany have been equally effective. By focusing on the diversity of activities available to visitors we have managed to substantially increase the length of stay and the resulting expenditure.
Bindi and Derek Dancing with the Stars
“With the green light given for expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport and with Brisbane Airport attracting new international flights from North America and Asia, we are very optimistic about our growth prospects in both the shorter and longer terms, especially with the rapidly growing demand for nature tourism in our key source markets.”