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The South Coast is No.1 for tourist destination, but for how long? A heads up to Eurobodalla Tourism


Recent information released by the federal government’s National Visitor Survey (NVS) revealed that the South Coast is more popular than ever. So much so, it is now the number one destination for domestic tourists in Australia surpassing the Gold Coast as the place to kick back and enjoy good times.

Just look at the numbers if you don’t believe me!

More than 3.8 million domestic tourists chose to visit the South Coast in the 12 months to March this year – up 267,000 visitors or 7.5 per cent, on the same period to March 2017 – according to the NVS.

The South Coast’s 2018 figure was more than 440,000 visitors higher than the Gold Coast’s. It also ranked more highly than the Hunter, the Sunshine Coast and Tropical North Queensland.


Above: Wake up Eurobodalla tourism !!! .. the Chinese aren't coming... why not focus instead on the $350m per year from recreational fishing instead

The South Coast tourism data also revealed people stayed a total of 12 million nights which is up by a little over 10% and spent more than $1.7 billion which was up just short of 7%.

Now to be clear when we are talking about the South Coast it includes Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley local government areas and Jervis Bay.

Great, right? Surely this equates to better local economies and more jobs for our locals which in turn supports the tens of thousands of households living on the South Coast. Maybe not….

Although holidaymakers were visiting the South Coast region in increasing numbers, the figures showed the purse strings were drawn tight. South Coast visitors, on average, parted with $465 each, whereas on the Gold Coast each spending $859.

It’s great that we are now the number one destination but considering we are not capitalizing on the potential gravy train we still have a long way to go.

Personally, I don’t think advertising and campaigning is a problem as the tourism/destination departments do a fine job promoting our region as the results show. I wish they were given a bigger budget so they could spread their wings further.

However, several recent comments from tourism managers and consultants agree much more needs to be done if we want to continue growing our largest industry and continue to support our communities. There is a consensus among these subject matter experts, that we need more key tourism infrastructure.

Well-designed key tourism infrastructure would encourage more visitors to come to towns, spend more money in the local economies and create more jobs. It’s that simple. I especially see this when I speak to the youth who are screaming out for work and the semi retirees looking to stay afloat until they are ready to fully retire.

This is where the Gold Coast does it really well. They have the tourism infrastructure so the holidaymakers are happy to loosen their purse strings. When an environment is designed and created to greatly help a local industry it tends to flourish.

"The advent of government upgrades to South Coast roads means people will travel down the coast quicker and that is good thing but delivering a quick and safer route to our region is only one important detail." Adam Martin

What is key tourism infrastructure? As always, I will use recreational fishing as an example to demonstrate but the same can be used for many other tourism oriented activities.

Recreational Fishing is by far the highest participated recreational activity in NSW and Australia. There have been many recent studies undertaken to show this is the case. No other recreational activity comes close. In a recent State Government acknowledgement $350 million is spent on the South Coast economy (mainly from domestic overnight stayers) due to recreational fishing. Next year in 2019, it is predicted that a tad over $400 million will be injected into the South Coast economy because of recreational fishing.

Can the same be said for cricket, rugby, Aussie rules football or any other activity? The research performed by smarter people than me says no.

Now that an undeniable link has been made between tourism and recreational fishing, what needs to be done to help that part of the tourism industry thrive?

For the Eurobodalla two points come to mind.

  1. Greater protection from exploitation and better management of our marine estate resources in a sustainable and holistic manner so we and our expected 3.8 million domestic visitors can use and enjoy it for decades to come. (I could speak about this subject for hours but now is not the time.

  2. Much improvement be considered and given to the direct and indirect related recreational fishing infrastructure.

Examples of Key tourism infrastructure:

  • Significant improvements to existing boat ramps and new boat ramp facilities (designed by trailer boaters and not solely by non-boatie engineers)

  • New and upgrade existing fish cleaning facilities

  • Significant parking arrangements

  • Better lighting and signage

  • Substantial increase in land based fishing platforms

  • More safety installations

  • More saltwater and estuary artificial structures to boost natural fish stock breeding

  • Open-up existing infrastructure for public use

  • A long-term plan to deliver a deep water marina

  • Design future related infrastructure with recreational fishing as part of its strategy

  • Refine, support and deliver large public events centred around recreational fishing that draw visitors

  • Support the groups that organise and deliver those events

Delivering on these points would undoubtedly improve our local economy, boost and sustain the directly related overnight visitor numbers, help improve our communities’ social deficiencies, help reinforce the protection of our marine resources and provide the much-needed employment for our region.

The funding is out there from numerous sources, believe me. It just takes time and campaigning.

Looking at the big picture with the huge potential, I can only see one stumbling block. The infrastructure management concerned about their future maintenance budget. In short, the current position is “if we can’t fund maintenance then we are not building it.”

But that is a story for another time.

Adam Martin – Euro Fishing Association

SOUTH COAST TOURISM BY THE NUMBERS

OVERNIGHT VISITORS

  • March 2018: 3,843,000

  • March 2017: 3,576,000

VISITOR NIGHTS

  • March 2018: 12,154,000

  • March 2017: 10,989,000

REGIONAL EXPENDITURE

  • March 2018: $1.8 billion

  • March 2017: $1.7 billion

AVERAGE SPEND PER VISITOR

  • March 2018: $465

  • March 2017: $467

AVERAGE SPEND PER VISITOR, PER NIGHT

  • March 2018: $147

  • March 2017: $152

GOLD COAST vs SOUTH COAST*

OVERNIGHT VISITORS

  • South Coast: 3,843,000

  • Gold Coast: 3,401,000

VISITOR NIGHTS

  • South Coast: 12,154,000

  • Gold Coast: 12,831,000

REGIONAL EXPENDITURE

  • South Coast: $1.8 billion

  • Gold Coast: $2.9 billion

AVERAGE SPEND PER VISITOR

  • South Coast: $465

  • Gold Coast: $859

AVERAGE SPEND PER VISITOR, PER NIGHT

  • South Coast: $147

  • March 2017: $228

*figures for the 12 months to March 2018.

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