BRISBANE (Tourism Queensland) - Queensland has bucked the national trend by recording an increase in domestic visitor numbers, Tourism Minister Margaret Keech announced today.
Latest National Visitor Survey figures show an increase of 3.6 per cent, or 599,000 visitors, over the year ending June 2005.
Domestic visitor nights were also up 2.4 million nights, or three per cent, over the last year, Mrs Keech said.
"These results are very heartening because they show that despite the plethora of cheap airfares throughout the Asia Pacific region, Australians are still choosing to travel to Queensland," she said.
"Interstate visitation rose by nine per cent, or 481,000 visitors, while intrastate numbers showed a slight increase of 118,000 visitors.
"The most impressive growth was seen in the Hervey Bay/Maryborough region, up 25 per cent, or 258,000 visitors, for the year ended June 2005.
"These figures look set to rise even further with the recent upgrade of the Hervey Bay airport, an influx of new flights and a new promotional campaign funded by the Beattie Government through Tourism Queensland, in conjunction with the local council, the regional tourism organisation and airlines," she said.
"The Sunshine Coast region also showed strong growth, up 9.4 per cent or 241,000 visitors for the year.
"Many Queensland regions that rely on touring visitors also showed an increase in numbers, with Fitzroy up 20 per cent (196,000 visitors), Mackay up 16 per cent (83,000 visitors) and the Northern region up 13 per cent (113,000 visitors), for year ended June 2005.
"The Outback also saw an increase of 8.6 per cent, or 53,000 visitors, on the previous year, mostly driven by intrastate touring."
But Mrs Keech warned the growth might not continue into the next quarter as the hike in petrol prices started to take effect.
"While Queensland can still lay claim to the cheapest fuel in the country, anecdotal evidence from operators suggests future bookings are slowing.
"This is an issue that is affecting all destinations throughout Australia and Queensland is fortunate to have its fuel subsidised by the Beattie Government.
"But I want to assure the industry that we are working with our counterparts in Canberra on this issue.
"Tourism contributes around $6.3 billion to the Queensland economy and employs more than 150,000 Queenslanders so it's vital we continue to work on strategies to grow domestic tourism in our regions," she said.
Other results to come out of the report showed an increase in domestic visitor nights to the Gold Coast, up 8.5 per cent or 1,365,000 nights in the year to June 2005.
Fitzroy, Northern, Hervey Bay/Maryborough and the Sunshine Coast also recorded an increase in visitor nights over the year ended June 2005, up 18 per cent (659,000 nights), 15 per cent (458,000 nights), 11 per cent (452,000 nights) and 9 per cent (1,019,000 nights) respectively.
Top honours in length of stay went to Tropical North Queensland with visitors staying an average of 5.3 nights.
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