Domestic visitors increase
INTERNATIONAL visitors to the Whitsundays have dropped off by seven per cent in the past year but domestic figures have increased almost 20 per cent in the past three months, according to Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Peter O'Reilly.
Mr O'Reilly said about 80,0000 more domestic visitors had come to the region in the last quarter.
He said it was encouraging that the domestic market was returning to the Whitsundays as it was the third quarter in a row where the region had seen strong growth in statistics following an 18 per cent increase in the year to March and 14 per cent in June.
“We've been hurt by the wet weather in the current quarter but the current spell of fine weather and a post-Oprah boost may set us up well for the peak holiday period,” he said.
However, despite the international drop, local operators are reporting backpacker numbers are starting to increase again.
Mr O'Reilly said the international figures were reflective of the strong down turn in the backpacking sector between April and September which coincided with the soccer World Cup held in South Africa.
“We've seen a 20 per cent fall in backpackers Australia wide and these figures reflect that for the Whitsundays,” he said.
English backpackers Becky Fox, 22, and Emma Millet 23, were in the Whitsundays this week and said they weren't going to miss out on a stop here.
They said they had heard about the Whitsundays in England and had even sacrificed visiting other Australian hotspots so they could make a stop in Airlie Beach.
“It is one of our favourite places,” they said.
The pair said though they noticed things were more expensive here compared to England.
“The thing about the money is not really an issue,” Ms Fox said. “I wouldn't say price has put us off at all.”