people on beach during daytimeStrong spending by visitors has brought a record $3 billion tourism expenditure boost to the Tropical North Queensland economy.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the latest National Visitor Survey figures showed Australian holiday makers were spending more and staying longer in Tropical North Queensland making it the strongest growing region in the State over the past year.

“Aussie travellers to Tropical North Queensland spent a record $3 billion in the year ending March 2022, up 18.8% from 2019,” he said.

“However, we are still $500 million short of pre-pandemic levels because our $1 billion international visitor market is yet to return.

“The 1.1 million holiday visitors stayed a record 6.5 million nights, up 6.5% from 2019, with an average length of stay of 5.7 nights.

“The domestic visitor spend per night is up 23.3% from pre-COVID figures to $276 with much of that achieved through buoyant average daily accommodation rates and an increase in spend on food and beverage.

“Queenslanders remained our largest source market with a record 1.5 million visitors (up 2.9% on 2019) staying a record 6.5 million nights.

“We entertained 524,000 interstate visitors with lower New South Wales and Victorian numbers reflecting the border closures in 2021.”

TTNQ Chair Ken Chapman said the results were extraordinary given that the region’s two largest domestic markets were locked out of Queensland for much of 2021.

“This record boost in visitor expenditure for our regional economy is on the back of strong tourism investment by Cairns Regional Council to help drive employment in our community and new funding by the Federal Government to focus on the domestic market,” he said.

“State Government support through initiatives like the Holiday Dollars, which were launched in Cairns, helped drive vital intrastate visitation through the early part of the reporting year while borders were closed.

“Outstanding results like this reflect the targeted marketing and public relations the additional funding has allowed the TTNQ team to roll out over the past 12 months to educate the domestic market about the world-class experiences on offer just a short plane ride away.

“Many Australians are discovering just how spectacular the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest are for the first time and they are blown away that Cairns is a cosmopolitan tropical city with accommodation, food and beverage offerings equal to those in our capital cities.”

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe thanked Queenslanders for rallying behind the State’s tourism operators.

“We owe our nation-leading tourism recovery to Queenslanders discovering the many world-class destinations our own backyard has to offer,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Thank you to the record number of Queenslanders booking Queensland getaways and supporting local tourism operators throughout the pandemic.

“Queensland’s unique visitor experiences are the envy of Australia and the world with so many breathtaking iconic attractions from the Great Barrier Reef to Outback dinosaurs found only in Queensland.

“One holiday is never enough to truly appreciate the rich diversity of Queensland’s visitor experiences with so much more to explore and enjoy.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the tourism industry had been a pivotal part of the city for decades, which is why Cairns Regional Council continued to support the important work being done by TTNQ to promote and market the region.

“It is also why Council has worked hard to have the city ready and looking its best, including the fast tracking of major works like the redevelopment of the Esplanade Dining Precinct, to ensure we were ready for the influx of visitors when borders reopened,” he said.

“To be the top performing region in the State is significant, especially when so many other destinations are vying for this same market share.

“The latest figures from Cairns Airport show that domestic passenger numbers are above pre-COVID levels and there were more than 2400 international passengers through the airport in the week beginning June 20, the most since March 2020.

“All this demonstrates what we all know, Cairns is an attractive destination that continues to punch well above its weight.”