THE South Coast is increasingly becoming a must-see destination for international tourists.
Recent tourism statistics indicate more overseas visitors than ever before have been stopping into the South Coast.
In the year ending June 2017, the South Coast welcomed 174,400 international visitors, an increase of 30.5 per cent on the previous year according to the Tourism Research Australia International Visitor Survey.
International visitors stayed a total of 2.8 million nights in the region.
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock lauded the growth as a win for small businesses.
“Greater numbers of people are coming to the South Coast, staying longer and spending more,” she said.
“The increase in visitors is a real boom for the area as they spent a record $272.3 million in the region, which is up by 29.4 per cent from last year.”
While Mrs Hancock attributed tourism growth to a successful state government advertising campaign, local tourism experts believe a range of factors have been at play.
Shoalhaven Council tourism manager Coralie Bell said infrastructure upgrades have made the region more accessible to tourists.
“We’re getting closer to Sydney every day,” she said.
“The Shoalhaven is much easier to access by road thanks to new infrastructure.”
Former Jervis Bay tourism president Kate Broadhurst agreed proximity to Canberra and Sydney has been a key factor.
She said international visitors have become more aware of Jervis Bay’s tourism appeal in recent years.
“The word’s gotten out that it’s really special,” she said. “Jervis Bay still has a sense of magic about it, the white sand, clear water, unspoiled bush, the country village feel.
“International visitors are looking for that, they want to see wildlife, they want to see kangaroos jumping in their yard. People who live here don’t understand that when overseas visitors see a galah, they fall off their chair.”