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Americans and Kiwis fuel record growth, but backpackers decline as ‘backpacker tax’ impact bites

International visitors to Sunshine Coast are not only staying longer, but spending considerably more, with the latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) figures showing record expenditure of $245.3 million for the year to the end of June 2016 – a rise of 26.7% compared to the year before.

The record result was revealed today in the IVS figures produced by Tourism Research Australia.

Key figures announced today include (figures cover YTD June 2016 compared to the year before):
•    Expenditure by international visitors to Sunshine Coast up 26.7% to a record result of $245.3 million
•    Sunshine Coast international visitors grew by 3.5% to 266,000
•    Holiday travellers grew by 7.8% to 209,000
•    Overall international nights stayed on the Sunshine Coast were up 11.8% to 2.8 million nights, with average length of stay 10.6 nights pp
•    Sunshine Coast holiday nights were up 35.7% to 1.6 million with average length of stay 7.5 nights pp
•    Best performing markets included US (+36.2%) and New Zealand (+8%),
•    Backpackers to Noosa were down 5.1% but non-backpackers up 22%

“The success of our Sunshine Coast campaigns in the USA and New Zealand are the stand-out trends in these figures,” said Ceo of Visit Sunshine Coast, Simon Latchford.

“The lower Australian dollar has definitely had an impact, but we believe it is the attraction of what we offer that is driving visitor numbers to the Sunshine Coast,” said Mr Latchford.

“We work very closely with our local partners in Noosa, Gympie and further afield – such as Fraser Coast – to create compelling reasons not only to visit, but stay longer. When you can experience the richness of the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island you are experiencing a compelling combination of world heritage nature parks, the most attractive marine and rainforest experiences, and sophisticated dining and entertainment.

“Our attractions – particularly Australia Zoo, which had a huge profile in America in 2015 – have clearly had a profound effect on visitation, and with the prospect of a new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport, we have incredible potential to grow international visitation from the Asia Pacific region in the years to come.

“We were active participants in the Queensland Government’s Connecting with Asia Forum last week and we will be really targeting Asia in the future, but in the shorter-term, North America, Europe and New Zealand will continue to be our prime target markets.

“Our major concern is the drop in backpacker numbers. Backpackers have been dropping since the announcement of the so-called ‘backpacker tax’ and it is not only affecting tourism numbers, it is depriving Sunshine Coast businesses of seasonal staff. We will be making strong calls to the Government to abandon the idea of the tax because it deprives the region of both visitors and essential short-term staff.  It is well-known that the backpackers of today are higher-spend visitors of the future.”

For full details of the IVS statistics go to

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